Is snacking certainly one of your unhealthy habits? 7 methods this conduct change professional says you possibly can cease


Can’t cease snacking? With a second lockdown looming, it’s time we tackled our unhealthy habits – earlier than it’s too late. Behaviour change specialist Dr Heather McKee reveals 7 recommendations on cease snacking

What’s the very first thing that involves thoughts while you hear the phrase ‘lockdown’?

As a result of all we hear is ‘blissful, uninterrupted snack time’, (in addition to ‘OMG we’re dwelling by means of a worldwide pandemic’).

Significantly although, who else discovered themselves making a number of journeys to the fridge or snack cabinet over the lockdown interval?

Certainly, current analysis by OnePoll, discovered that just about one in three (28 per cent) individuals have been discovered to be consuming extra unhealthy snacks and drinks because the starting of lockdown.


Though there may be nothing fairly as stress-free as binge watching a Netflix sequence surrounded by your favorite snacks, if finished too typically, you could begin to discover some undesirable weight acquire.

Not solely that however when given the chance to regularly snack, this could quickly change into an unhealthy behavior resulting in a dip in power ranges, low temper, nervousness or despair.

when given the chance to regularly snack, this could quickly change into an unhealthy behavior

With a second lockdown looming after a pointy rise in coronavirus instances, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced harder restrictions together with workplace staff being requested to return to working from residence.

Learn Extra: Working from residence? Enhance your productiveness with these 5 suggestions

We are able to’t assist however suppose that for many people, this could solely imply one factor – extra snacking.

That’s why Healthista caught up with Healthista Collective Knowledgeable and Behaviour Change Specialist Heather McKee, who has some recommendation on cease snacking:

Why we snack…

Snacking is a behavior space I’ve at all times been captivated with, and since lockdown, unhealthy snacking habits are extra prevalent than ever earlier than.

Habits are shaped by means of context-dependent repetition. Because of this while you do one thing sufficient instances and in the identical circumstance, it can change into a behavior – a repetitive behaviour.

Each behavior offers a reward, and the place snacking is anxious, it’s a reward past simply the tastiness of meals. It’s a reward that permits you to be distracted out of your ideas and permits you to break out of your work.

while you do one thing sufficient instances and in the identical circumstance, it can change into a behavior

When attempting to finish any behavior, you have to have a look at the behavior as when you had been untying a knot. Habits are a posh mesh of behaviors and you’ll’t resolve them simply or unexpectedly.

Like with a knot, you possibly can’t simply begin pulling on the center, as a result of it’s solely going to get harder. As an alternative you have to work on untangling the knot one thread at a time till the knot is unraveled.

Subsequently, with the intention to begin tackling a nasty behavior you have to discover out what cue is inflicting the unhealthy behavior within the first place and now we have two doable cues (temptations) – environmental and emotional.

Woman In Her Fridge Looking For A Snack Bad Habits

Environmental cues

When taking a look at environmental cues, particularly in relation to snacking, this may be something from how shut a snack is to you (eg: in your desk) or bodily being someplace that you simply affiliate with meals or snacks (eg: sat at your kitchen desk).

Throughout lockdown, our residence and work environments merged – I consider this is without doubt one of the principal causes for elevated snacking.

many individuals are working from their kitchens, a spot typically related to meals

Your own home atmosphere is a spot the place you’re in a relaxed state, the place you deal with your self to a snack or two, earlier than returning to a extra managed and fewer relaxed work atmosphere – the place there are finally much less alternatives for snacking.

Now although, individuals are spending their whole day of their relaxed atmosphere (at residence), therefore the urge to snack extra regularly. Plus, quite a lot of us aren’t used to being that near a fridge or cabinet filled with snacks.

Even sitting at your kitchen desk when working from residence will cue you into pondering you ought to be consuming or snacking, which can trigger emotions of starvation.

Emotional cues

In the case of an emotional cue, snacking is normally a symptom of one thing better, similar to extreme consuming is usually a symptom of one thing better.

Abusing meals and alcohol is usually used as a option to handle feelings – therefore the time period emotional consuming, which most individuals can relate to. Do you ever end up snacking extra regularly if you end up pressured, anxious, drained or fed up?


With all the pieces happening on this planet proper now, stress and nervousness is at an all time excessive.

Persons are drained, pressured, anxious about their jobs, attempting to handle children in addition to attempting to do business from home. That’s quite a lot of feelings to cope with.

Pushed by feelings that the present atmosphere has aggravated or triggered inside us, individuals are extra prone to attain for snacks and meals because it presents a momentary distraction and acts as a coping mechanism.

When trying again to the lockdown interval specifically, it appears clear to me that snacking habits had been born as a result of an environmental cue, however had been made worse as a result of heightened feelings (emotional cues).

You’re mind has subsequently related being anxious and anxious with going to the fridge to fill that emotional void, and since you’re at residence, entry to the fridge is simpler than ever.

Ask your self why you suppose you’re snacking…

Ask your self why you suppose you’re snacking – it’s an essential query to ask. We’re at all times so targeted on discovering an answer somewhat than specializing in why and when the behavior began within the first place.

Your snacking could come all the way down to the truth that somebody has put a stunning cake close to your desk (environmental), however more often than not snacking habits have advanced by means of a coping mechanism (emotional).

If you wish to change your behavior in the long run you must perceive what’s driving it.

After asking your self why you suppose you’re snacking, you possibly can work on untying that behavior knot with these 7 recommendations on cease snacking…

7 methods we will cease snacking

#1 Out of sight, out of thoughts

Have you ever ever seen a Mars bar in a store and impulsively needed one? You most likely wouldn’t have even considered it till you noticed it.

When working from residence strive to not have any meals out on show and ensure unhealthy snacks aren’t the very first thing you see while you open the fridge or cabinet.

Woman-Snacking-At-Night-Snacking-Survey-By-Healthista.com_.Jpg Bad Habits

Research have proven that when placing a bowl of M&Ms on a secretary’s desk versus six ft away, the secretaries who had the bowl on their desk gained six to seven kilos a 12 months in comparison with the secretaries who had been six ft away.

This is because of the truth that being away from the desk meant a acutely aware determination was made to go over to the bowl of M&Ms somewhat than mindlessly reaching into the bowl. Subsequently, creating that house (six ft) between themselves and the snack made it much less seemingly they might interact in that behavior.

Are the wine glasses and wine simple to achieve? Are your snacks multi functional simple to get to position? Bowls of sweets on the desk? My recommendation is to make snacking laborious for your self, conceal the snacks the place you wont see them.

Are your snacks multi functional simple to get to position? Bowls of sweets on the desk?

Or when you actually can’t belief your self do away with the snacks altogether. Should you attain that 4pm droop and realise you must go away the home and stroll to the retailers to get your self a snack, you’re extra prone to simply let that craving go.

Not solely that however as I discussed above, many individuals are working from their kitchens, a spot related to meals, with the fridge in plain sight.

It’s just like when you had been to lie down in your mattress, you’ll be cued into eager to sleep or when you had been to enter a toilet you possibly can be cued into eager to go to bathroom.

Should you can work from some other room, then achieve this, or sit together with your again to the fridge. Attempt to change your surroundings all through the day by altering rooms if that’s an possibility for you.

#2 Exchange unhealthy snacks with wholesome ones

Make it simple on your self by putting simple to eat (wholesome) snacks the place you possibly can see them. Have a bowl of fruit out and carrot sticks prepared reduce within the fridge. That means you possibly can keep away from the emotional turmoil of ‘what can I snack on?’

Take away the cake and exchange it with yogurt. Should you’re reaching for crisps strive carrot sticks as a substitute. Wine cravings? Swap for a flavoured glowing water.

Creating an atmosphere that could be a more healthy will allow you to make higher selections

As people we’re designed to be lazy and preserve our power, so if we will make it simpler to eat properly and have a wholesome snack on the prepared, it’s way more seemingly that we are going to resolve to eat that somewhat than happening the highway for a chocolate bar.

Creating an atmosphere that could be a more healthy will allow you to make higher selections. It’s not about depriving your self, or having a cookie jar that you have to climb a ladder to get to (though that’s a good suggestion), it’s merely about making it simpler for your self to efficiently snack more healthy (or to not snack in any respect).

Healthy Snack Carrot Sticks Bad Habits

#three Schedule your snack instances

Do you discover that there are specific instances of day the place you need a snack greater than others?

If that sounds such as you, begin writing down when these snack cravings and urges happen. Report the place you’re, what you’re doing, what time it’s and what kind of temper you’re in.

What’s it about that point of day that makes you extra vulnerable to snack? Is it tiredness, is it stress or nervousness? What reward are you in search of? Pay attention to the scenario that normally causes you to provide right into a snacking temptation.

begin writing down when these snack cravings and urges happen

When you have got discovered why you’re prone to snack and when, you possibly can schedule a selected ‘snack time’.

Make it a ritual, create an event and rationale round it. It’s an idea in psychology often known as delayed gratification. Eat it in a aware means as a way to actually admire and benefit from the pleasurable snack expertise.

That means you received’t be happening a random hunt for a snack however truly trying ahead to a selected time you possibly can sit down and luxuriate in each second of that well-deserved deal with you’ve been eager about.

#four Discover one other distraction (that isn’t meals associated)

There’s an fascinating idea in psychology known as urge browsing. This course of is your reactive mind transferring into the rational mind.

When individuals expertise a set off or craving they need to wait 90 seconds for that set off to cross and ‘experience the wave’ until the set off or craving dissipates or finds one other distraction.

Are you utilizing a snack as a way to take a break out of your work? In case you are, it’s time to search out one other distraction.

Are you utilizing a snack as a way to take a break out of your work?

Studying, strolling, TV, train, meditation, yoga – there are many non-food associated actions that you are able to do to distract your self from snacking.

Why not strive making a drink, having a chat with a good friend or including to some items to a puzzle. What else are you able to do in that scenario that can fulfil the reward of a break that you’re in search of.

Though, if having a tea is a set off to eat a biscuit, then rethink what you are able to do as a substitute. Work out your set off to get to the preliminary drawback.

#5 Don’t quit all snacks directly

Woman Snacking On Peanut Butter Bad Habits

Attempt to not be over-ambitious in pondering you possibly can simply stop snacking altogether – that’s why changing your snacks with one thing more healthy is an efficient first step to take.

There isn’t any level in attempting to fully remodel your habits in a single day, it simply doesn’t work that means. It’s an excessive amount of willpower consumption and it’s not going to be efficient long run, any efficient change must be gradual.

So, begin small, and by that I imply strive to not deal with all of the snacks in someday. Determine on certainly one of them, corresponding to your morning biscuit urges or your afternoon chocolate bar.

Concentrate on the best modifications first, as it will offer you emotions of success and motivation, that can spur you on to proceed to stay to wholesome habits in the long run.

It’s success that breeds a wholesome behavior, so if we’re making it laborious for ourselves to achieve success it’s unlikely that we are going to keep it up in the long run.

Going again to the knot analogy, you wouldn’t begin with the actually powerful knot within the center. As an alternative, you’d begin with the best tangle first. That then offers you the momentum to proceed till the knot is launched.

#6 Eat correct meals to keep away from ‘needing’ a snack

Fairly often, one of many principal causes individuals really feel the necessity to snack is as a result of they haven’t eaten sufficient breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In case you are snacking since you really feel hungry, you have to begin having healthful and nutritious meals that truly fill you up.

Dieters typically really feel the largest urge to snack, as a result of they’re consistently limiting their meals consumption. So as a substitute of ‘simply having a salad’, have a completely loaded salad with protein and grains to make sure you are fulfilled. This can cease you snacking in a while within the day.

your lunch must maintain your power ranges until meal time – so ensure that its adequate

It’s far simpler to make a more healthy meal than it’s to make a wholesome snack. Not solely that however we don’t are likely to mentally course of snacks the identical means we do principal meals, which implies we don’t get the identical quantity of satisfaction from a snack as we do from a meal.

Usually the explanation for the afternoon droop is because of slumping power ranges. This may additionally even be attributable to not consuming sufficient for breakfast or lunch.

‘Saving’ your energy for dinner isn’t a good way to divide out your power by way of meals. For instance, your lunch must maintain your power ranges until meal time – so ensure that its adequate. A sandwich and packet of crisps isn’t actually a sustainable lunch and can typically be adopted by an power dip.

What’s extra, individuals don’t are likely to take sufficient breaks within the afternoon, which implies they’ll begin to really feel depleted and search for an power decide me up, which is normally a set off to snack.

Bad Habits-Main-1

#7 Give your self time

Research have discovered that it will probably take something from 66 to 122 days to interrupt a nasty behavior, relying on how advanced the behavior is (aka how lengthy you have got been performing the behavior).

Forming good habits and breaking unhealthy ones takes fixed observe – it’s a lifetime pursuit. You possibly can’t simply ‘be good’ for some time and hope that every one your worldly issues can be resolved.

We are able to simply apply the identical principle to dental hygiene. As quickly as you cease brushing your tooth you’re dental hygiene will undergo.

reward your self, inform your self properly finished and provides your self a pat on the again

On a regular basis you must work at your willpower, you possibly can’t simply someday resolve to cease and suppose that your urge to snack can be over eternally.

There’s a option to pace up breaking a behavior although, and that’s by means of reward. Instantly after you have got carried out a wholesome behavior (eaten carrots as a substitute of crisps), reward your self, inform your self properly finished and provides your self a pat on the again. Always remind your self how proud you’re of your self for sticking to your targets.

This creates a dopamine launch (our really feel good hormone), that our mind craves and what we normally acquire from a snack. Should you can create that dopamine reward for your self, it will probably supercharge the pace at which wholesome habits could be created.

When a child learns to stroll and everybody cheers and clap, they really feel rewarded and realise what they’ve finished is an efficient factor and so will maintain doing it till, finally they’re strolling.

Be part of Dr Heather McKee’s Chunk-Sized Behavior Course:

Primarily based on over ten years of analysis into wholesome habits, in addition to in depth one to at least one shopper work, I’ve distilled the important thing findings from analysis and observe on what it takes to make wholesome habits stick.

If you wish to cease counting on willpower and restriction and create wholesome habits you truly get pleasure from, then that is the course for you.

Launching to a restricted variety of individuals in September 2020, The Chunk-Sized Behavior Course is concentrated on providing you with the talents, data and confidence to create the wholesome life-style you’ve dreamed of.

You possibly can be a part of the waitlist right here:

Heather Mckee

Dr Heather McKee is a behavior coach and well being behaviour change specialist, advisor, lecturer, speaker and founding father of

In 2013 Dr McKee accomplished her PhD in weight-loss psychology. Her analysis checked out key methods for long run weight-loss success and construct these methods to assist individuals obtain their targets, with out weight-reduction plan.

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