The other day I came home ravenous. It was dinner time, but before I could eat, I had to make dinner for / feed / clean up after Lucy plus prepare ingredients for our dinner (we usually eat after Lucy goes to bed). More than two hours passed before I sat down to eat. In the meantime, I nibbled on who-knows-what, and by the time I had the time and freedom to have dinner I was hardly hungry. But I ate anyway.
This happens a lot. And it’s gotta change.
Because mindless nibbling can make weight loss harder and weight gain easier. It’s often the thing that stands in the way of people maintaining a healthy weight. Here’s why.
- Most of us don’t mindlessly eat vegetables. We snack on high calorie things like crackers, nuts, cheese or chips.
- It prevents portion control. When you’re not thinking about how much you’re eating, you’re probably eating more.
- It’s not as satisfying as sitting down to a meal, so you’ll probably still eat as many meals (and thus overdo it on the calories).
Not mindlessly snacking during meal preparation really pays off. A woman I worked with a few years ago lost 20 pounds simply by changing her habit of snacking as she prepared meals for her child and dinner for herself and her husband.
Here’s what her diet looked like before:
Even making just one of the changes above – not snacking while she packed her daughter’s lunch – would lead to profound results.
At no point did this woman feel like she was on a “diet,” because she was just slightly tweaking her daily routine without much effort.
If you mindlessly eat during meal preparation, here’s how to stop:
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat regular meals. Have small, planned, healthy snacks (like fruits and vegetables) between meals so that you’re not overly hungry when mealtime arrives. This allows you to make better decisions about what you eat at meals.
- Make yourself a snack to eat while you’re making dinner. If you’re starving, serve yourself some carrot sticks with hummus or cup of berries to snack on while you’re making the main meal. This will help tide you over, but it’s low in calories and high in nutrients.
- Keep a food diary. If you have to remember it and write it down, you’re less likely to pop it in your mouth. There are many smartphone apps that act as food diaries, but if you like the pen & paper version, I personally love fitbook.
- Save up for what you really love. Before you reach your hand into a bowl of chips, think about how you really want to “spend” your calories. If chips aren’t your absolute favorite, withdraw the paw and save those calories for something you love!