For way too many of us, our first reaction when things aren’t going so well is to snack. While there may be a multitude of factors that led us to this place, how we got here really doesn’t matter; we’re here, and it’s time to deal with it. Here are a few strategies we’ve found to be helpful:
1. Get rid of the offending goodies! Those chocolate-covered, caramel-drizzled crispy treats are much less likely to call your name if they’re not within earshot. Get rid of them, by any means possible. (NOT by eating them!) Toss them in the trash. Better yet, take them to work and give them to that snarky little size 3 from accounting. Two birds, one stone: BONUS!!
2. Replace them with some healthier alternatives. Keep some grapes in the fridge for just such emergencies. You could also keep a few nuts in the cupboard. (Be careful here; by weight, some nuts are about half fat. It adds up quickly.) Baby carrots with low-fat ranch dressing can help to satisfy the need for crunch. While raisins or other dried fruits may be seem like a healthier choice, the calories from the fruit aren’t lost in dehydration; a handful packs a potent caloric wallop, so be careful.
3. Set a timer. This may seem like a crazy idea, but try it: set a timer for five minutes when the craving hits. Often, poor dietary choices result from split-second decisions. Use this time to slow down just a bit before you act. Decide whether or not it’s really worth giving in to.
4. Get plenty of sleep. At the risk of sounding like a parent, if you don’t get enough rest your body isn’t adequately prepared to deal with stress.
5. Eat balanced meals. Same as #4; if you’re not eating right, stress can be magnified.
6. Employ the buddy system. Like most undesirable habits, this one thrives on secrecy. When you expose it to the light, it loses its power pretty quickly. Enlist the help of a friend you can confide in to be your accountability partner and encourager. Note: it is not recommended that you use your spouse for this. (Don’t ask how we know that. Just trust us on this one.) Before you give in to the temptation to raid the fridge, pick up the phone.
7. Keep an appropriate stash. While this may seem counter-productive, just hear us out. If you keep something on hand that will satisfy that sugar craving, you may be able to minimize the damage if you keep the right stuff on hand. Try some individually-wrapped hard candies, so you have to work for them a bit more. They’re also much lower in fat and take longer to eat than chocolate. Keep them in a special yet inconvenient place.
Most importantly, be patient with yourself. You’re looking for improvement, not perfection. If this was really easy, everybody would be doing it and we’d be out of a job. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to find our timer.