I feel like grazing is one of those habits that is SO easy to mindlessly fall into. We get busy, bored and outright distracted and “oh look! Snacks!”
Being a mom, especially as I was home with two babies, this one was REALLY hard for me as I would catch myself sneaking bites all the dang time. Making my food, their food, my husband’s food…washing the dishes, prepping to wash the dishes. It was ever a string of grabbing just a nibble of this and a nibble of that. As I intentionally set out to break this habit, I become shamefully aware of just how out of hand this was starting to get and why I was steadily packing on the pounds over the years.
Here are some things I learned along the way.
Did you know the body also looks to food for hydration? Just wondering because for a long time, I had no clue. I didn’t get how I could still be SOOOO hungry an hour after a large meal. Make sure you’ve had plenty of fluids before meal time so that hydrated body can scale its hunger cues more honestly.
2. Eat a Balanced Blend of Macros
Many would advise to eat a protein rich meal but what helps even more is having a solid balance of proteins, fats and carbs. This gives the body energy in stages from the energy boost from the carbohydrates to the sustained satisfaction from those healthy fats. Proteins may include lean meats, eggs, beans, nuts, and/or seeds in your meals.
What are Macronutrients?
Macros refer to food categorization of energy sources, or those required in large amounts in the diet. These include proteins, fats and carbs. The best balance for you depends on a number of factors including your age, gender, body/metabolic type, goals and training demands.
3. Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
If you do feel the need to snack, make sure you have healthy options available, such as fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Avoid keeping high-calorie or high-sugar snacks around, as they can be tempting.
4. Go Do Something Else
Sometimes grazing can be a result of boredom and let’s face it, if your mind and hands are tied up with tasks outside of your kitchen, it will be substantially easier to not nibble your way through your day. Keeping yourself busy with activities such as exercise, reading, or hobbies can help reduce the urge to snack out of boredom.
Real Food Revamp
5. Track It & Be Present
Pay attention to the food you eat and savor each bite. This can help you feel more satisfied and reduce the likelihood of grazing.
Stop Slackin’ on Trackin’
For many, the idea of tracking can get incredibly daunting but understand, the key point is awareness. While more detailed tracking can be a huge help in hitting specific, timely goals, just being more conscientious of what you’re eating and when can make a huge difference in staving off inclinations toward overeating. Here are some basic tracking methods to try:
This is surely one of the more reliable and handy methods of tracking as most apps will at least provide you with a breakdown of your macros in addition to general caloric intake. This can be done in the Defiance app available to my clients. Another app I love is Cronometer which not only tracks you macros but micros as well.
Yup, back to using a good ole pen and paper method, the exercise of writing out your entries can really help reinforce the connection between your actions and intentions. This can be as basic or detailed as you wish to make it but having that list in front of you is a great help in appreciating how much you’re really consuming in a day.
Better for speed/ease than for caloric tracking, this is a good way to keep yourself accountable and remember what all you’ve actually taken in for the day. Even thinking to bust out that camera (AGAIN) could be all the prompt you need to close the bag, ditch the fork and just walk away. At the end of the day, you can look back and often see where you’ve surely had more than plenty of food for the day.
6. Set Meal Times
Try to establish a routine for meal times and stick to it as much as possible. This can help train your body to feel hungry at certain times of the day and reduce the urge to snack between meals. This can be 3 or 5 per day, whichever rhythm works better for your body. The point is that you have set times when you plan to eat and outside of that, the kitchen is closed.
7. Ditch the Distractions
I get it. Item to be so busy and an ever plugging away at things so I can totally appreciate wanting to take the food back to your desk or, as many people are inclined to do on their lunch breaks from work, check out on social media while munching away problem the problem is that this does not allow for our natural neurological responses to properly occur and can set us up for eating when our bodies are actually hungry.
Wait…Where Was I?
I remember reading years ago of a study on amnesiacs who were fed a meal then shortly after they were fed again. As they did not remember having eaten just moments before, they ate as though they hadn’t eaten already. In other words, they disconnect between the memory/awareness of having eaten was enough to prompt overeating. Fullness and satisfaction do not just happen on a body level but come from the experience we have around food. The more the brain gets to take that all in, the better.
Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer, as this can lead to mindless grazing. Instead, focus on your food and enjoy the eating experience. Plate your food nicely and focus on enjoying the bites.
Remember that grazing is a common habit and it may take some time and effort to break it. Be patient with yourself and keep trying different strategies until you find what works best for you.