January was a long month, it could be that you’re starting to struggle with those New Year Resolutions.
If one of yours was to achieve a healthy weight, then I’m here to help you with some tips to combat those hunger pangs that can come with being cooped up over the cold winter months that you can also apply all year round.
One of the reasons we often eat is because we’re bored, angry or upset. After a bad day at the office we’re most likely to grab a chocolate biscuit or a packet of crisps. Maybe there’s nothing on the TV, you’re lonely, fed up or your relationship is on the rocks, but you never find yourself reaching for that bag of salad sitting in the fridge. Junk food can provide a temporary distraction or even be a source of entertainment. Most of the time we comfort eat when we’re not really hungry at all. Comfort eating is something that is instilled in us from birth. When we were babies we cried and we given milk. As we grew older we were rewarded with sweetscomfort or when we hurt ourselves.
Comfort eating is a big problem, I know, I do it. Something’s gone wrong, just why does that chocolate seem to hit the spot? The urge to indulge in those dull or despairing moments can be strong, and if you’ve been counting the calories all day, it’s easy to fall of track by snacking, particularly in the evening when we might be sat binge watching Netflix. It tastes good at the time, but if you’re like me you probably feel guilty or angry with yourself afterwards, which can make the whole thing worse.
The secret is to create a new cycle. Altering the habit loop by intentionally doing something else other than eating when you’re bored. This action can keep you on track for any weight lose goals.
So how can we do this? The first step is to create a distraction. You need to identify the time when you know you are most likely to snack due to boredom. Next think of an activity you really enjoy doing. It could be anything from scanning social media to playing your favourite sport (obviously the healthier option), maybe just take the dog for a walk, painting your nails, cleaning or just crossing something off your to-do list
If you still find yourself reaching for the fridge then follow these steps:
1. It sounds obvious, but recognise the fact that you have the urge to eat because you’re bored and ask yourself if you actually are hungry. Sometimes in reality we are actually thirsty, so pour yourself a cold glass of water to hydrate. If you want to get fancy, you can add slices of lemon or cut fruit into your glass, or have a hot cup of tea instead!
2. Try spending 10-15 minutes at least doing one of the diversion activities/hobbies you identified.
3. Ask yourself again now if you still have the urge to eat, if not, get on with your day! avoid the initial urge to eat, sometimes the feeling will pass, and your body will realise that it wasn’t actually hungry in the first place
If so, you now have two options.
i. Try the activity again for a further 10 minutes.
ii. Eat-you’ve tried to disrupt the pattern by trying something different. it could actually be that your body really does need food, but instead of reaching for the crisps or biscuits, reach for some carrot sticks instead. Eating vegetables will turn your craving into a healthy burst of nutrition for your body, and you won’t feel guilty later!
Continue repeating this method as often as you can to create a new habit.