It's ok! After all, it's Christmas! This was the refrain we repeated all throughout the holidays, when it seemed like the spirit of Christmas required us to snack on the delicious food that's become synonymous with the season.
This habit affects our waistlines and our physical health– and destroys our New Year's resolutions to lose weight. Fortunately, there are many simple and successful ways to combat the snacking habit, or at least to reduce its effects:
- Drink water: Often we eat because we mistake thirst for hunger. Experts recommend that we drink 64 oz of water per day, but few of us come close, leaving our bodies constantly thirsty. When you feel the desire to snack, try drinking a glass of water and see if that satisfies the need.
- Chew gum: Grab a piece of sugar-free gum when the munchies strike. It will satisfy your need to be eating and it won't add many calories. As an added bonus, it's hard to put food in your mouth when you’ve already got gum in there!
- Count to twenty before putting something in your mouth: This gives you time to ask yourself whether you are truly hungry, or just eating out of boredom or habit.
- Keep a food journal: There's no better way to watch how quickly the little mouthfuls add up over the course of a day. For further motivation, make your journal accountable to a friend.
- Remove unhealthy snacks: It's a lot easier to resist temptation when it isn't there to begin with. If you still have Christmas treats left, bring them into the office or to a playdate or party. Or (gasp) throw away that half-eaten bag of chips.
- Stock healthy snacks: Prepare healthy snacks such as carrot and celery sticks, fruit, a turkey sandwich, or trail mix, and keep them handy. But be sure to measure out portions ahead of time ”constant dipping from an open bag can still compound the calories, even if the food isn't junk.
- Spread out your meals: Try splitting your regular meals into several smaller ones, and eat them more often. For example, divide your lunch in half and refrigerate the rest for a late-afternoon snack. You still get to snack, but you don't eat more than you would have if you had followed traditional mealtimes.
- Make every bite count: Avoid snacking while watching television or surfing the internet ”when you can't really enjoy what you're eating or keep an eye on how much is being consumed. Calories are calories, whether you taste them or not, so make them worth it!
The Christmas Snacking Habit can indeed be beaten. Trying a few of these suggestions will help you to develop better eating habits which might last you throughout the year. Now that's a gift worth keeping!