We received a lot of great questions after the latest issue of our newsletter went out which is wonderful because it helps us know what you would like to hear about on the blog and in future editions of our newsletter. Today I’m responding to a question that many dieters submitted to us in one form or another.
Q: Right now I eat in a pretty controlled and healthy way for meals but in between meals I’m struggling a lot to get my eating under control. I eat way too much for snacks, especially in the late afternoons, and it is very hard for me to control it. How can I overcome this?
A: Sometimes we find that if our dieters are eating too much for snacks, it means that they did not eat enough during meals and/or they didn’t eat enough lean protein and healthy fats to keep them feeling full. The first thing we suggest is that you look at the content of your meals – are you eating a healthy enough balance of foods? Yes, vegetables are VERY healthy but if that is all you’re eating for a meal, then no wonder you will want to eat a short time after.
Another thing that could be going on is that you’re not actually hungry, you’re experiencing the desire to eat. This could be for any number of reasons – you’re craving something, you’re stressed, you’re emotional, you’re tired, etc., and there are two very effective tools that you can use to combat this desire to eat. First, try eating according to a schedule. You don’t necessarily (right now, anyway) have to decide in advance what you’re going to eat, but decide in advance when you’re going to eat, including snacks between meals. This way if you’re having a strong craving to eat at 3:00, you can remind yourself that you have a snack coming at 4:00 and you only have to hold out 60 more minutes.
Second, spend some time identifying your sabotaging thoughts and coming up with strong responses to them. If you’re thinking, “Just this one little snack won’t make a difference,” remind yourself that it absolutely DOES make a difference and that every single unplanned snack counts because it helps reinforce old, unhelpful habits. Try writing these responses on 3×5 cards (we call them Response Cards) and read them every morning with your Advantages List so that they are fresh in your mind when you need to call upon them. When our dieters have identified a problem time, like in the afternoon or after dinner, we always have them prepare themselves in advance for that time by reading their Advantages List and Response Cards right before so it is most clear in their mind just why it’s worth it to them to resist.
And most importantly – don’t give up! Dieting is hard work and it takes practice, but the more you do it the easier it gets. Each and every time you stand firm and don’t eat unplanned food in the afternoon, you increase your chances of resisting the next time, and the time after that, and the time after that.