3 new snacking rules for weight loss

Written by: on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
woman caught snacking

Resolve to ditch your bad snacking habits—and the pounds will start coming off!

I’m not sure about you, but lately I’ve found myself nibbling quite a bit. For starters, there are the kids’ lunches, which I make the night before—a few Goldfish before I put them in my daughter’s lunchbox, a spoonful of peanut butter before I swipe it on my son’s slice of bread…and it doesn’t stop there. Well, my four-year-old left her half-eaten (but still good!, as I told myself) bagel on her plate this morning—and I had to have a bite (well, maybe if I’m being honest here, it was three).

Nibbling is definitely not okay! If I was to add up the calorie tab (which I typically don’t…I mean, really, who does??) on just the snacking I do while I’m standing up, it would come to: Goldfish, Cheddar (70 calories); peanut butter, one tablespoon (about 94 calories); one quarter bagel, with cream cheese (about 120 calories)—so that’s 284 calories, not including other nibbles and meals (which are so easy to forget when you’re doing it mindlessly as I am).

Honesty is also typically lacking in the case of stand-up snacking, as I call it­—as is a reliable memory. Most of us aren’t as honest about what  (or how much) we actually eat. And each bite counts here as it all adds up over time.

I’m already trying to lose an extra 20 pounds in baby weight—so I’m not sure why I think I can afford to eat these extra (and completely unnecessary) calories.  So I’m putting new 2012 rules into effect; these will work for anyone struggling with a case of too much snacking like I am:

1) NO SNACKING unless I’m eating off a plate AND sitting down at the table. This is a good rule for anyone keeping tabs on his/her weight—and ensures that eating is a purposeful and satisfying ritual, not a mindless or nervous habit. If you’re making the effort to do this, you must really be hungry (avoiding the on-the-way-out-the-door nibbling…and extra calories). It’s not easy, but I’m committed. (I’m sure that I’ll have a few slip-ups every now and then, but key thing is to just try and try again until it becomes a habit). Just think, if I continue at this rate, I’ll put on a pound every 12 days—and about 30 pounds over the course of a year!

2) EAT PROPER MEALS. When I’m nibbling, I find myself skipping lunch (who needs the extra calories? I think to myself). But skipping meals is one of the worst habits to get into because it sets you up for hunger later on—and more snacking. Eat a proper meal (always with protein and a few carbs) and you’ll be satisfied—and have the willpower to not nibble later on.

3) SKIP SUGARY SNACKS. Empty carbs (think: cookies, cake, candy, and any processed sweets) do absolutely nothing for you; in fact, they set up you for an energy spike—and then a crash. I know why I’m reaching for these quick fixes: I haven’t gotten enough sleep lately (thanks to a newborn’s frequent night wakings). Sleep is CRITICAL for willpower—and keeping your metabolism stoked for weight loss. But 7 to 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, plus protein-plus-carb snacks (apple with peanut butter, a few almonds with half a banana, yogurt with a tiny bit of granola…) sets anyone up for consistent energy throughout the day and long-term success at weight loss.

So right now, as the mid-afternoon energy slump is starting to take hold, I’m having an apple with peanut butter and a giant class of water (too little—and your body will think you’re hungry when you’re not).

Do you have strategies for coping with snacking? Share them! I’d love to know what they are.


Frenzied life = Frenzied Eating, Spending, & Substance Abuse? (aka The Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan disorder)

Written by: on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Spending with a credit card

Using your plastic a bit too much? You might want to stop to think about why

Since leaving my job at the end of November, a curious thing has happened to my spending: it has slowed down dramatically. Now, you might say, of course it has: you don’t have a regular paycheck anymore! True, true, but it’s more than just that: it’s that I don’t even have the desire to spend money. No need for designer shoes or bags, no need for random things picked up that I never ended up using, no need for that fourteenth pair of black pants, and no need to browse in stores for something/anything.

There were times, mind you, in my frenzied life—juggling 60+ hours of work a week, a 3-hour daily commute, and two young kids—when the spending would slow down, but the mindless eating would start. When one was temporarily tamed, the other would rear its ugly head.

Now it’s a different story: Spending time with my kids reading; being able to make it all the way to the end of a compelling book (I just finished Water for Elephants…which was amazing) or through the entire newspaper; spending an extra 10 minutes to have a cup of tea in the morning; going for a 5-mile invigorating run outdoors: these are all things I treasure so much more now than that trendy bag, pair of shoes, or piece of clothing.

It got me thinking: how much of the mindlessness in our lives (and this includes mindless eating, drugs, drinking, and so much more) is a result of the crazy impersonal nature of our 24/7 lives? It’s almost as if we’re trying to feed some innermost, unspoken (and unmet) need. We put ourselves on a diet …yet again… or a budget (or go into rehab), forcing ourselves to restrict our compulsiveness—but we never get to the root of the problem, of why we feel the need to do it in the first place. That may be why diets and budgets often backfire with “binges”.

I think about the actors and actresses in Hollywood with big issues (think Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and all the stars in rehab for substance abuse, eating disorders, etc) and I see this firsthand: lives lived in excess are most certainly trying to fill a void. What that void is has to be determined by each of us as it’s an individual thing.

And when we feed those needs, a funny thing happens: we don’t need to diet anymore because our weight naturally gets under control; we don’t need to manage our credit card debt (because it never gets out of whack), and we don’t need to go into rehab because the drugs and drinking just aren’t necessary anymore.

How to identify what we’re really craving? It’s not easy but: Living in the moment; not living for other people (and what they think you should be—or should be doing); having a greater purpose in life; loving wholeheartedly; learning to appreciate what we have (not what others have); respecting our bodies every single day (as you never know when your days may be up)…these are just a few of the things that are helping me.