Beat the Snack Attack

Prevent Impulse Eating

Think portable snacks this week!

HungryAvoiding impulse eating is tough when your’e a mum.  It’s happened to all of us – you know the feeling, you’re out running errands or getting to doctor appointments and you suddenly realise that you are hungry – not just a little hungry though….you haven’t eaten for hours, your head is throbbing and you can’t even think straight.  Bottom line: you are hangry and you have to eat!  Now!!!!

hangryYou look around at your options and you realise that getting something even remotely healthy in the next few minutes is nearly impossible, especially with a little one crying on your hip. So with little choice (and little patience), you hit the drive thru or food court and grab a muffin, fries or a salad with “grilled chicken.” (If you had any idea how much that piece of ‘grilled chicken’ has been processed and manipulated before it arrives in your meal – you’d be sick).

And just like that you have put food into your body that will lower your immune response, raise your blood sugar, increase your stress levels, reduce your energy and contribute to weight gain.  Argggg!

It is a tough situation, and we’ve all been there (me included). Sometimes you really do have to eat ‘right now.’   But over time, these little eating emergencies add up and significantly impact your health.

So here is a simple solution for all mums:

Emergency Preparedness

The answer is to stop having ‘eating emergencies’.  It does take some planning, but it isn’t as hard as you might think and you can do it when you are planning your meals and shopping for the week.

The first step:

Make a list of healthy, on-the-go or portable foods that you enjoy eating. Make sure that you include things with healthy fats, protein and carbs (especially if it’s around your workout time). When you are very hungry, you need to have all the macronutrients covered in order to get quick energy, satisfy your hunger and clear your mummy brain. This does not have to be a complete meal, but it needs to be balanced enough to substitute for one if needed.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

* Unsalted nuts. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts. (These will provide protein and good fat – a small handful is a good start)
* Raw Veggies. They are crisp, juicy, cold and sweet and full of the micronutrients your body craves (have as many as you like of these and you can add some hummus for dipping).
* Cheese. If you eat dairy, having a small slice of your favorite cheese will give you a complete protein, a little fat and be very comforting. You’ll be surprised how this small snack can feel so satisfying if you give it time to reach your stomach. Remember: the goal is to tame the ‘hanger’ beast inside you that is calling out for a burger from the nearest drive through. This is a mental exercise as well as physical!
* a pbNut butters. Cashew, almond, peanut…find your favorite. Almond butter is great on a banana; cashew butter is perfect on a couple of whole grain crackers. Go ahead and put 7-8 chocolate chips on top if you want. This is a tiny indulgence that will go far to settle your craving. Or my favourite is cut apple slices spread with 1 tbsp of peanut butter – its an awesome quick snack and super portable.
* Boiled eggs. Do you like cold, salted boiled eggs? They are a powerhouse of protein. Just be sure to get free range eggs.
* Tuna. If you like fish, you can buy small tins that travel very well.
* Water. You have to drink water!!!

The second step:

It seems obvious, but it has to happen if you are going to eliminate impulse eating: buy the food on your list. You have to get it in your house, so you have it when you need it. And don’t buy junk food, (even if your husband wants it) if it’s in the house – it will be too tempting. Ask your partner to eat junk food away from home or at work. It’s all about getting your family healthy and teaching your children good habits too!

The third step:

Plan your food kit. This food has to travel with you, and you have to decide how you are going to transport it. Your nappy bag or stroller is a great option because you will always have it with you. The secret is convenience. Keeping a few options in your bag as well as in an area of your fridge that you can easily grab and throw into your bag will make it easy and streamlined.

Here are some tips to help you set up your food kit for ease and speed:

Small cooler. Purchase a small cooler that will hold an ice pack and several other things. Keep this in your kitchen so you can grab it on the go.
Plates, utensils, napkins. Whether you use paper/plastic or your everyday items, get a bag and put a couple of plates, some utensils and some napkins in it. You will use this same bag every time you use your kit, so it becomes a habit. It can be a plastic bag, a cloth bag or a paper bag. It doesn’t matter. The point is that you can grab this bag on your way out the door and know that it has what you need in it.
Small storage containers or plastic bags. You need individual containers to put your food in. Don’t take the whole package of cheese or the whole bag of chocolate chips, because you will end up eating too much. Put one or two pieces of cheese in a container, and put only 7-8 chocolate chips in a bag. Toss some nuts in one container, some cut up fruit in another. Also, you don’t have to prepare everything in advance. In a pinch, you can eat a big capsicum just like an apple! Just have a plan so you can get it fast when needed. Some things don’t have to be separately packaged, such as your nut butter. Just toss the whole jar in the cooler…if you can control yourself.
A tote bag or nappy bag. This bag will be your “picnic basket,” so to speak. Stuff everything into it that does not go into the cooler.
Water bottle. You need something to store a lot of water in.

Now do it!

You’ve done the hard part. You’ve figured out what foods will make you happy and help you through the emergency, you’ve stocked up on them, you have gathered what you need for transport and you have your water situation figured out.

All that is left is making it happen. You have to take the food with you when you leave the house. The first few times you do this, it will seem complicated and tedious. But eventually, you will do it with little thought. It will be habit. That is why using the same cooler, the same bags and the same water container every time is so important. You will likely even find you grab the same foods nearly every time—it’s just easier. And it has to be easy, or you won’t do it.

The happy result is that when you are out and realise you are hungry, you will not have to eat food from a fast food restaurant. You will have an assortment of health and energy promoting foods at your fingertips.
See you at class!

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