From: Happy Food,
Put the crisps away because there’s a new addiction in town - snacking. The problem of so-called ‘snackoholism’ is slowly emerging, with 4% of Brits admitting to being unable to give up the habit of eating between meals.
A survey by Diet Chef has uncovered that 61% of adults admit to eating at least one packet of crisps per day - that’s a staggering 48 million packets of our favourite potato slices being consumed by the adult population of the UK. Add to this the 45 million+ chocolate bars and the 78 million biscuits and cakes we eat every day, and it’s no wonder we have an obesity crisis on our hands…
Worryingly, 10% of those surveyed admitted to having a burger, a pizza or a portion of chips as a snack per day. In fact, we’re such snack lovers that the survey revealed 12% of us would prefer to snack than have sex. Who says romance is dead?
Diet Chef's nutritionist, Caron Leckie, comments: “Our survey shows the extent to which snacking has got out of control, most of the people we surveyed said they snack out of habit or boredom which shows people are eating without thinking, not out of necessity.”
It can be a difficult problem to curb - sometimes we snack out of hunger, boredom, cravings or just pure habit. Identifying our snacking ways and preparing ourselves is the first step to overcoming ‘snackoholism’ – so check out Caron’s top tips on how to cut back on those tempting treats:
1. Identify what. Whether you want to cut down on or cut out your snacks you need to know truly what you are snacking on - it's actually quite common to snack without even realising what or how much we are having. Keeping a food diary can help you identify your snacking reality.
2. Identify where. Once you know what your snacks are, you need to consider where you are most likely to snack. Is it in the office? Passing the vending machine? Or at home? When you know where you snack you can focus your efforts on clearing out that snack drawer in the office or the snack cupboard at home.
3. Identify when. Then think about when you are most likely to get the urge for something - at night in front of the TV? Late afternoon? Or it might be emotionally related - whenever you're stressed, lonely, bored or feeling down. Knowing when you snack gives an indication of what may trigger your snacks - is it mid-morning? Are you having a sensible breakfast? Is it when you've had a bad day? Your snacks may be more emotion-related than hunger or boredom - when you've sussed out your snacking patterns, you're ready to confront them.
4. Find a healthier alternative. There are always alternatives; if you are craving chocolate try a low calorie chocolate drink, or instead of crisps try some popcorn - a healthier option means although you are snacking, it's guilt-free.
5. Distract yourself. Occupy your mind with other things - go for a walk, phone a friend, cleaning/ironing, read a book, take a bath, paint your nails - try a few things and see what takes your mind off those snacks.
6. Avoid tricky situations. Prevention is better than cure so if you are tempted at lunchtime when you go to the shop, remove the need to go to the shop with a packed-lunch, take everything into work with you. If you associate having a biscuit with a cup of tea or coffee, cut back on the amounts you are having.
7. Cut the portions. If avoiding the situation doesn't help you can make anything instantly healthier by cutting the portions - this way you get a little of what you fancy, just in a smaller package.
8. Fill up on fruit and veg. We should be aiming for at least five a day so if you feel yourself reaching for a snack, try make it fruits or vegetables packed with nutrients and this will keep your hands and belly full till mealtime.
9. Make small changes. Sometimes trying to tackle everything at once can mean we end up with too much on our plate (literally). If you snack in the morning and evening - pick one to start with, or if you like both chocolate and crisps - again just pick one. If you deprive yourself of everything that you like, it's much harder and likely to end in a cycle of deprivation and bingeing.
10. Don't forget drinks. Cutting your snacking is typically aimed at cutting some calories so don't forget drinks will count too. Whether it's a fizzy drink, orange juice or the mid-morning caramel latte - they add up so choose a healthier alternative like green tea or water helping to cut your calories and also keep you hydrated - thirst can often be mistaken for hunger.
Need more ideas for healthy eating? Check out our nutritional advice page to send you in the right direction.
It's easy enough to decide you want to eat well - the hard part is finding the right foods to keep you healthy and satisfy your tastebuds. The Treatwell Tasters have lots of food and drink ideas to have you looking good, feeling good and bursting with energy in no time. And no, they don't all involve wheatgrass.See my profile