Too many times I take out the 10am snack only to find that it has disappeared by 10:05 and I can't even place exactly what it tasted like.. This has happened to you, no doubt? Here's a list of tips to help you slow down, enjoy, appreciate, and actually make your snacks last. Eating one snack more slowly will help you avoid or at least postpone your cravings. (See questions to ask yourself when cravings hit )
1. Reward yourself - Use food only as a reward for being productive or accomplishing something. Don't go crazy though, you don't deserve a reward for everything , you know..
2. Keep busy - If you're simply busier, hypothetically, you won't have as much time to be snacking. Read my post on how to stay motivated and on task at work .
3. Clean out your mouth - Between each bite make sure your mouth is clean. Get all the extra goodies out from between your teeth and from all of the little places where food gets stuck. Take a sip of water if you want.
4. Portion control - Bring only as much food as you think you need to eat. Only buy the small bag of chips this time; only pack one handful of pretzels instead of three. Note that this is probably less that you would want to eat, but not more than you need to eat to stay content.
5. Bring a variety - Something like trail mix (it's good for you!) And eat only one thing at a time. One peanut, one raisin.. Take your time deciding which piece it will be next. Consult your taste buds and consider all of your options before making the BIG DECISION! Too much of the same thing can make you complacent and your appreciation for each bite will be reduced.
6. Exploit your own discomfort - Put your snack just out of your reach so that you are required to lean over or get out of your chair or otherwise inconvenience yourself in order to grab a bite.
7. Appreciation - Notice how much different a peanut tastes when you eat one (or one half) at a time as opposed to a handful. How many different flavors do you notice? What do you notice from the shape? How is one peanut different from another? How does the flavor change as you slowly eat your way through the peanut?
8. Include all senses - Smell your snack or look at it closely before putting a piece in your mouth. This goes along with appreciation. Chinese and Tibetan monks have even been known to listen to their food before consuming it. The idea here is that it makes each bite feel larger and more important.
9. No one can eat just one? - Take the challenge.
10. Set a timer - Say you want your one little bag of peanuts to last for 3 hours. Estimate how many peanuts are in the bag, divide that number by two. Divide 3 hours by the previous number you got, and that means at that interval you are allowing yourself to eat 2 peanuts. IE, if I had 24 peanuts (a handful) I could eat 2 of them every 5 minutes and they would last for an hour. Use a timer on your watch, phone, computer, etc.
As I wrote this list I made a couple handfuls of trailmix last for an excess of 3 hours. And I can still taste every bite! It was great. I challenge you to give it a try. And let me know how it went!
Image by hale_popoki via Flickr
Try asking yourself some of these questions next time you get those cravings for sweets or fatty foods. Asking questions of yourself in general, is a good way to ensure you're actually conscious of what you're doing, and not acting on impulse.
1. Will it be more wasteful for me to drop this into the trash, or to store it in the fat cells in my body and then have to use my own energy to burn them up?
2. How does my stomach feel right now? Is it full?
3. If I could extract only the fat/calories in this food and put it in a cup, would I want to slurp it down?
4. Am I craving this because I actually want it, or because it is a physiological attraction of my senses to it? (A physiological desire would be a natural occurrence of which only the senses are in control, whereas an actual wanting is consciously controlled by rational thoughts in the brain. The rational thinking of the brain, despite popular belief, does have the power to trump the senses.)
5. How important is it that I eat this food? How important is it that I do not?
6. How different would my life be if I ate this junk food everyday, compared to if I did not eat this junk food at all?
7. Do my senses really have more control over my actions than my brain does?
8. How will I benefit from eating this, or will I?
Leave a comment and add to the list.
What do you ask yourself when cravings hit? What helps you? What hurts you?
Food is good. There aren’t too many people that don’t appreciate certain foods. During this season it’s especially easy to happen upon some decadence and improperly indulge.
I think it’s important to appreciate this privilege and accept indulgence once in a while, but one thing to keep in mind while doing so, which may change the amount you eat, is that: The first bite tastes the same as the last.
What I mean to say is that if you take time and adequately appreciate whatever food you’re eating (sourdough bread & spinach dip for example…) you’ll notice that this appreciation can be taken away from only one bite. All subsequent bites of the same thing will taste remarkably similar and you’ll begin to realize that it is not necessary to continue eating once you have gotten what you were after: An appreciation of the taste of the food. So make it a good bite, take it very slowly, move it around in your mouth, try to concentrate on every atom in the food and ENJOY IT!
This concept pulls influence from an ancient Buddhist meditation called the “Raisin meditation”. Buddhist monks were known to concentrate on a raisin, study it, smell it, feel it, listen to it, and fully appreciate its entire existence to the point that they got so much sincere appreciation and substance out of the raisin that it could sustain them for an entire day.
More about the raisin meditation