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Cracking The Craving Puzzle: My Journey to Snack-Free Success

When I discovered simple habits to beat my snack cravings and embrace healthier eating choices

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04 Dec '23
6 min read


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Snacking has always been my Achilles' heel, a constant craving that often threw a wrench into my health goals. In 15 minutes, I would polish off a packet of banana chips. After lunch, the urge to raid the fridge for a bar of chocolate was like second nature to me. Ask me to differentiate between mindless eating and stress-binging, and I will throw you a blank face. 



Fed up with this habit, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I dived head first into health blogs, searching for ways to break free from the endless snacking cycle. I know the downsides of constant munching, from unwanted weight gain to irritating bloating.  But those were enough to push me to experiment with various strategies for one month. 

Let me share tricks that helped me break this munching routine. 

Chewing a sugar-free gum

I read somewhere that chewing distracts your mind from cravings while keeping your mouth busy. A University of Rhode Island study revealed that gum chewers ate 68 fewer lunchtime calories, resisted high-calorie treats, and burned approximately 5% more calories than non-gum chewers. The above stat convinced me enough to try it out. On most occasions, our stomach, like our mind, is bored. So, initially, it was challenging as my hands would automatically reach for a packet of chips in my snacks compartment. I alternated that with a box of gums that found its place in that section. 

The result was noticeable as I managed my snacking habits and reduced unnecessary cravings (read calorie intake). My appetite was relatively controlled. I successfully resisted the urge to shop for a packet of chips. Chewing gum is also a great way to suppress my dessert craving post-heavy meals. Hence, carrying gum came in handy at such moments. It's a small trick but surprisingly effective in curbing those triggers.

Stay hydrated 

Hydration is underrated in its ability to check snacking as it goes beyond sipping water. Often the body misinterprets thirst signals as hunger, leading to unnecessary eating/snacking. A study found that drinking water before meals can help control appetite and reduce body fat and weight. 

When I initiated my no-snacking journey, I made a list of high-water content food, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, broths and soups. Including oranges, watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, coconut water, curd, and buttermilk in my diet kept me hydrated and satisfied those mid-morning or afternoon cravings.

Post-evening walk, cucumbers would be my go-to snack. With 96% water, it is packed with health-promoting nutrients like vitamins A and C. I would end meals with curd and buttermilk as these are enriched with probiotics needed to digest the food, a trick that beats those post-meal sugar cravings. 



During summer, watermelon is my favourite snack which has Vitamin C, A and magnesium. Its high water content not only quenched my thirst but kept me rejuvenated.

Brush Your Teeth

Maintaining a post-meal oral hygiene ritual by brushing my teeth was a game-changer in suppressing unnecessary snacking during dinner. It would give a burst of minty freshness, steering me away from unnecessary munching. This clean, refreshed feeling in my mouth makes it much easier to resist reaching for snacks and keeps me on track with my health goals. 

However, I suggest waiting 30 minutes to an hour post-meal to protect your teeth and not tamper with your enamel. 

Visual cues and post it

One of the effective strategies I had found in my journey to control snacking is strategically placing sticky notes with messages like ‘Your stomach is bored, not you.’ and ‘Remember your health goal?’ around my kitchen. I plastered them on the snack cupboard or fridge door. These visual cues act as gentle nudges, reminding me of my aspirations for better health and making me pause before reaching for snacks.

The words trigger a moment of reflection on whether I genuinely need a snack or if it's just a habit-driven craving. They made me reconsider my choices to opt for healthier alternatives like almonds or fruits and, sometimes even, resist snacking altogether. This simple yet powerful method helped me stay aligned with my health goals and encouraged mindful eating habits.

Mindful breathing

Snacking can often transition from simple hunger to mindless eating or emotional indulgence, blurring the lines between satisfying a physical need and soothing emotional cravings. It took me a while to realise this. Mindful breathing was the ideal tool for this.

It involves being conscious of your breath's natural rhythm, allowing it to flow naturally and guiding your conscious awareness towards your breathing.

How did it work?

In the evening, the temptation to order samosas kicked in. Before I opened Swiggy, I paused. I dedicate a brief two minutes to practise mindful breathing. Nothing too complicated. Breathe in and out.

Honestly, it didn’t work initially. I would have a glass of water or chew gum to distract myself. But on the fifth day, it allowed me to tune into my body's signals and decipher its actual needs. Often it's not food my body craves but rather hydration, sometimes even caffeine, or a mental breather. With more practice, I was able to reduce triggering thoughts and emotions leading to emotional eating. Long story short, I was able to understand my body’s requirements. 

Changing environment

Now this was the toughest as it demanded me to change my surroundings. The internet will hype up its effectiveness. But it will shy away from conveying the mental effort it demands, especially when faced with a tough day, and the comfort of a box of fries beckons irresistibly.



Since I took up this health goal, I was mentally prepared to try it. Whenever the urge to snack hit, I would step outside for fresh air or find something else to do, like doodling. It helped break the habit loop tied to snacking. It shifted my focus, offering a mental pause that steered me away from unnecessary munching. It was a success.

Now I am aware we are all built differently. What clicked for me might not for someone else. Patience and self-kindness, especially on days I slipped (we all do!), made a difference. The above experiments helped me identify my triggers, adopt better eating habits, and embrace mindfulness. If I give in to snacking, I aim to realign with my goal the next day. We are only human, after all. 
 

Category : Health and Wellness


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Written by Madhuwanti Saha

Writer, daydreamer, procrastinator