Quarantine Survival Guide: How To Get Your Snacking Under Control
To say the least, these are stressful times. Whether the reason is directly due to stress, or boredom, or just simply that the tasty snacks in your pantry won’t stop calling your name, you may find yourself snacking. Excessively.
While snacking in of itself isn’t inherently bad, it can often lead to undesirable increases on your waist line.
To be clear, it’s totally okay to not be stressing out about continuing to make progress on your fitness goals. Taking a few weeks off won’t kill you. There’s only so much damage you can do in 1-2 weeks and you know what, your priorities may lie elsewhere than fitness.
So why give a shit about working out and dieting at all?
Well, getting out of shape may only add to the stress you’re already experiencing. During a time where a lot of bad things that are happening that are entirely out of your control, you do have control over your fitness, which can be a beacon of positivity in an otherwise dreadful situation.
Sometimes it isn’t easy, but you have full control over what you put into your body, whether you exercise or not, all of that.
There’s a reason virtually every single mental health expert says exercise is important. In the short term, the endorphins and conglomerate of hormonal shifts have a positive impact on your mood. But I find in the long term, it’s so much more than that.
Transforming your body. Smashing any insecurities you have. Feeling amazing about how you look does a number on your confidence and how outgoing you are. Feeling strong and resilient instead of weak and like your body is getting old.
Fitness provides you with a permanent increase on your quality of life.
It gives you something to look forward to that the universe can’t take away from you quite as easily as other things. Having something positive to look forward to, goals to work on, gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I firmly believe that having absolutely zero goals you’re working towards right now in this situation is a breeding ground to drive yourself mad.
Fitness can provide you with a semblance of control in an otherwise chaotic time.
For me, it’s always been my fallback. When things go to shit, I can shut out the world, and focus on what I can control. What still brings me enjoyment.
Sometimes that one single positive thing to look forward to, something you have full control over, is enough to make the difference between being absolutely miserable, or at least content.
It’s not the easiest thing to do right now. Between all the stress and uncertainty of the whole COVID-19 situation, no access to the gym, being stuck at home all day, and those damned snacks calling your name, the odds are stacked against you a bit.
But I’m confident if you effectively implement these strategies you’ll do just fine, and come out of these shutdowns a stronger person with more resilient habits, maybe even rocking a set of washboard abs when it’s time to hit the beach.
There’s a handful of strategies you can use that will make it a lot easier to make better decisions with your diet.
In general, it all comes down to controlling your “food environment”.
Keep Problem Foods Out Of The House
First things first, identify your problem foods. What foods do you know you absolutely can’t resist yourself with? Don’t keep it in the house.
For me it’s that Fairlife Chocolate Milk. Dear lord. If I buy one of those jugs, it’s gone in a matter of hours. Not exaggerating. I try to justify all the calories and sugar by reminding myself a jug has about 90 grams of protein, but let’s be real, I shouldn’t be doing that.
And yes, I have memorized the nutrition facts of an entire jug of the stuff. I know I have a problem. Shh.
But that right there is exactly my point. I know I have a problem controlling myself with that, so I don’t keep it in the house. I maybe only buy it once in a while when I decide I want a “little” treat of 1.5 liters of chocolate milk in a single sitting that I consume standing in front of the fridge with the door still open.
Meanwhile I can keep peanut butter around because even though it’s still a treat for me, I don’t find myself uncontrollably eating spoonful after spoonful at 12:37 at night while I sit on the kitchen floor sobbing.
Not that I used to do that or something. Definitely not speaking from experience…
Identify your problem foods, and keep them out of the house. Clean out your fridge and pantry and throw things away to start fresh if you need to.
Stop snacking in general
This one hurts, but you should probably do it. Just stop snacking entirely. Don’t eat outside of pre planned meals.
Snacking isn’t often done for the actual need for sustenance, it’s usually just done out of boredom or craving for some sort of dopamine hit.
And if it is being done for sustenance because you’re absolutely starving, that means you could do better with planning and scheduling your meals, anyways.
When you snack out of boredom or for enjoyment, you’re screwing up your brain and creating all sorts of bad habits. It all comes down to classical conditioning. You know, psychologist Ivan Pavlov and that drooling dog experiment.
If every time you come home from work (or in the coronavirus lockdown case, move from your dining room table to your living room sofa) and crack open a bag of chips and flip on the TV to relax for a bit, you’re cementing bad habits.
You begin to associate that setting with the savory, salty, palatable taste of potato chips. Every time you come home after work, or sit in that chair, or flip on that TV, your mind will instantly jump to potato chips. Even worse if all 3 are happening at once.
This problem usually compounds on itself as when you’re absorbed into something like the TV, you’ll mindlessly munch away on chips, and before you know it three quarters of the bag is gone and you’ve added a hefty 850 calories onto your daily total.
Circumvent the issue entirely. Don’t snack. If you absolutely want some chips or something like that, get away from the TV. Go sit at your dining room table away from distractions and pour some out of the bag into a bowl. Then sit there and eat.
This helps you avoid creating any sort of conditioning which leads you to craving chips, and prevents you from mindlessly eating as well. If you’re sitting there in silence with no entertainment just eating chips, you’ll probably soon realize you don’t actually want chips, you’re just bored, and will put them away and move on.
Here’s a little secret.
Those two above tips? They’re really helpful. But they’re crutches. You don’t need them. They’re just band-aid solutions that don’t address a deeper problem that’s rooted in your behaviors.
Even when I do succumb to the sweet temptation of Fairlife Chocolate Milk, I’m allowing that to happen. I can, and often do, limit myself. I’m not special. There’s no reason you can’t gain control over your problem foods too.
(at this point you’re probably wondering if Fairlife is sponsoring this article… subliminal marketing? Maybe.)
The deeper issue at hand is that for most people, we’re not making conscious, thoughtful decisions about our food a lot of the time. We’re making automatic decisions without a moment of thought or a shred of weighing the consequences.
Either we’re caught up in the moment and thinking of whatever sounds good and tasty (and actively trying to avoid considering the consequences), or we’re so busy we’re just grabbing ANYTHING because we’re starving.
If you don’t even provide a chance for rational thought to take place, are you going to be making very good decisions?
In a gist, it comes down to practicing mindfulness strategies with your diet, as well as identifying and making yourself more aware of your motivations.
I actually already wrote an article on that subject. So if you’re looking for more than quick fixes but would prefer to actually solve the root of your issues, give it a read by clicking here.
If you thought this article was helpful and you’d like more, sign up for my email list. You’ll be notified whenever new blog posts are made, as well as receive a ton of free goodies such as a full nutrition plan (with tips for meal prepping, not included in the above article), free workout programs, and a ton more. Details and sign up form are in this link here.
Lastly, if you’re stuck trying to figure out some home workouts, I made a comprehensive video guide with included programs for whether you’re new to the gym or have been lifting for a while like me. Minimal to no equipment required. Get that here.