Ep #85: Managing Your Snacking

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | Managing Your Snacking
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When you’re trying to lose weight, get stronger, or achieve any other health goal, planning what you eat and following your plan are essential. However, like so many of the women I work with, you might be wondering where snacking falls into that. Is snacking bad altogether? Is it okay if you include snacking on your plan?

I need to make this clear: snacking is NOT inherently bad or unhealthy. Plenty of people lose weight and achieve their health goals while also snacking. However, there are times when snacking can be a problem and hinder your goals, so it’s important to bring awareness to how you use snacking in your life.

Tune in this week to explore why we snack, when it becomes a problem, and how to get your snacking under control. I share the various reasons working moms snack, how snacking can be a hiccup on your health plan, and the exact tools I recommend you use to bring awareness and control to your snacking.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

What You Will Discover:

  • The fascinating history of snacking.
  • Why snacking might or might NOT be a problem for you.
  • How the habit of emotional eating leads to frequent snacking.
  • What to do if your snacking has become a problem.
  • How to manage your snacking.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #85. If snacking is a problem for you, let me help you fix it.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, we are going to talk about snacking today. Snacking is something that comes up all the time in coaching calls, and I think it’s worth it to spend some time talking through this. Because for many of you, snacking is keeping you from reaching your health, weight loss, and fitness goals.

And the reason it gets challenging, is because for many of you, it’s a combination of multiple factors that results in you snacking. Often, it’s a combination of lack of planning, getting overly hungry, habit, emotional eating, or all the above. So, if any of those apply to you, keep listening.

We’re going to pick apart the reasons you might be overdoing it on snacking. And then, I’m going to give you tools to rein in your snacking if it’s a problem. You’re going to walk away from this episode with an understanding of why snacking could be a problem for you, then what factors contribute to your snacking. And then, most importantly, what to do if snacking is a problem, so you can get control of it.

Alright, so to be clear from the outset, this is not to say that all snacking is bad, okay? There are plenty of people I work with who have two or three meals and two or three snacks every day, and they’re able to lose weight and still meet their fitness goals.

My purpose here today is not to demonize snacking. But that being said, for many of you, snacking does not help you because it’s haphazard. It’s not planned, and it’s leading you to overeating. In that case, I would argue that your snacking is hurting you and it’s keeping you from losing weight.

If that’s the case for you, I think this episode will help. I’m excited about this one. I’m pumped to talk about this with you and have an entire podcast episode about snacking because this is a barrier for so many people. And if I can help you make snacking less of a barrier then rock on. Okay, so let’s go.

Alright, first, I am going to share… I never do this… But I’m sharing just a little bit of history about snacking, because I thought it was so interesting. Snacking was not always a thing in the U.S. It’s actually a fairly new concept. I looked it up because even though I’m not a fan of history, I am interested in food.

I learned that snacking and the United States got its big start around the 19th century. At that time, snacks were actually stigmatized, and they were thought of as a lower-class or working-class food. The earliest snacks were sold by street vendors outside factories, and they were not thought to be super hygienic. Think peanuts from a street cart; probably not super sanitary.

But with time and tenacity and a little innovation, the street snack vendors nailed it. Once the snack makers figured out how to keep snacks ‘shelf stable,’ the snack industry gained some momentum. Snacks started appearing everywhere on store shelves, they became more mainstream, and everything snowballed.

Here’s a fun fact I did not know this until I started looking. Cracker Jack is thought to be the first snack food in the U.S. It was founded by two German brothers who lived in Chicago. They collaborated with someone who created a wax lining for the bags of Cracker Jack, and that kept it fresher for longer. And the rest is history.

Now, thanks to a combination of big food companies, widespread production of ultra-processed food products, and of course, fancy marketing, we have been sold into a culture that largely subsists on snacks. Three meals and three snacks a day is not at all an uncommon pattern of eating in our country. For many people that’s the norm, three meals and two or three snacks. Or for many people, they just don’t eat actual meals and instead they graze for most of the day. They’re snacking throughout the day.

It’s the cumulative impact of those snacks that’s causing us problems. Why exactly is snacking a problem? First, let’s just talk about the physiology of eating here. I think this will help you understand one of the reasons that snacking can be a problem, when you understand what’s going on in your body when you have your snack.

And at the risk of getting just a little nerdy here, I’m going to try and keep it as simple as possible. I don’t really love getting into the scientific minutia, but I’m going to keep it basic. When you eat, and the carbohydrates you ingest get broken down into glucose, your body releases insulin to manage that glucose, to ensure that your blood sugar stays in a steady range; not too high, not too low.

It’s certainly more complicated than that, but that’s the idea. Insulin is the hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar. So, the more times you eat, the more times your body secretes insulin. And here’s a key thing to know about insulin, insulin is a fat storage hormone. When you eat, and your body has to do something with that food, insulin gets to work. It shuttles glucose all over your body, to your muscles and your organs.

Then, whenever there’s excess blood glucose, insulin will ultimately help you store that excess glucose as fat. It’s a fat storage hormone. And here’s why this matters. When you’re in a fed state, or to keep it simple, when you eat, you are in fat storage mode. You are primed for storing fat. And the more often you eat, the more your body cranks out insulin to deal with that food, and the more your body will be in fat storage mode. Which is the opposite of what you’re aiming for.

Again, it’s more complicated than that, but I’m trying to keep this to a 30-minute podcast, right? So, the quick and dirty take home here is this, the more times you eat, or the more snacks you have, the more you secrete insulin. And the more you secrete insulin, the more your body is primed for fat storing. Okay. All right.

So now that we’ve got some science under our belts, let’s talk about other reasons why snacking could be a problem for you. One of the most common things I see from my clients who have a problem with snacking, is that often, once you start, it’s hard to stop. And this can play out in a number of ways.

Think about it. Does this ever happen to you? It’s late afternoon, lunch is long over, and dinner is still an hour or two away, so you have a handful of pretzels. But once you have that first handful, it seems like you get even more hungry and then you have more, and then a little more still. And then a few minutes later, what started as one handful of pretzels often ends up as multiple handfuls of pretzels and you’ve overshot it, and over eaten way more than you intended. And you’re still hungry and looking for more food.

In this case, it may be hard to stop eating those pretzels because those foods are designed to keep you coming back for more. The food industry, I’ve mentioned before, they have us right where they want us. Big food companies employ food scientists who have done their homework. They have figured out the exact right combination of sugar, salt, and fat, to make hyper-palatable, ultra-processed foods, many of which are snack foods. They make them hard to put down.

Those foods are processed and engineered to make you want more. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again here because it’s so fitting. Think of the Pringles tagline “Once you pop, you can’t stop.” It is brilliant. It’s catchy, and it’s by design. Those Pringles and most of the snack foods you find in the middle of the grocery store, those foods have been scientifically engineered to keep you coming back for more. Okay?

Another reason it may be hard to stop snacking once you start is because you let yourself get overly hungry. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but sometimes, between lunch and dinner, I get hungry. It may be that dinner is later than usual, or maybe I haven’t eaten enough for lunch.

But in either case, I get hungry. Then, combine that with decision fatigue and stress that settles in at the end of the day, and it’s really easy to start looking for “just a little something”; I say it that way. It’s just a little something. Because often, that’s how your snack starts out.

You tell yourself, “I just need a little something to hold me over until dinner.” That ‘little something’ starts out as a handful of trail mix. But then while you’re packing your kids’ lunches, and you pull up popcorn for them, you have a few handfuls for yourself. And then, while you’re cutting up veggies for dinner, you pull out the hummus and dip your extra carrots and cucumbers while you chop yourself a salad.

And then, maybe it’s a handful or two of shredded cheese, straight from the bag to your mouth, while you’re making burritos. And then, when you add all that up, you’ve eaten the equivalent of a small dinner before you even sit down to your actual dinner.

I bring this one up because it happens all the time. In that moment, it may not seem like much. Taken alone, a handful of trail mix may not be a big deal. Or a few carrots and cucumber sticks with hummus, not a big deal, right? But the problem is you don’t stop. One snack turns into another and another.

It gets hard to stop because you’re overly hungry, it’s late in the day, your decision-making capacity is strained, and the food is right there in front of you. You have easy access. That all combines to a problem with snacking.

Okay, next. Another reason snacking may be a problem is that you often don’t keep track of them or self-monitor them. I’ve mentioned tracking and self-monitoring before in previous podcasts, so I’m not going to get into all of the nitty-gritty details here.

But as a recap, if you want to lose weight, change your habits, eat healthier, or really do any of those, self-monitoring is essential. Self-monitoring, in essence, is a way to verify if what you think you’re doing is what you’re actually doing. And as I said before, this does not mean that you have to pull out MyFitnessPal and start meticulously accounting for every calorie that goes in your mouth. No.

But that being said, I do think it’s essential to have some sort of self-monitoring system in place so you give yourself data. That can be as simple as a pen and paper food journal, where you just write down everything that goes in your mouth; no amounts, no weighing, no measuring cups. You just write down what you ate.

Some of you, you do that for your main meals. You may be super diligent about journaling and self-monitoring when it comes to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But when it comes to your snacks, it may not be as easy. You may not record them at all.

And then, when you go back and look at your food diary or your tracking app, or whatever self-monitoring system you use, you may be confused. It may look as if you’re not eating that much, at least based on your food journal, but if you really go back and think about what you actually ate, there’s a handful of Cheetos here, two Hershey Kisses there, half a cookie from the break room, and so on.

But if none of that is in your food journal, we have no idea what’s going on, and it’s really hard to remember come Friday that you ate all of that on Monday. So again, another shameless plug for some kind of self-monitoring system. I’m getting off track here.

The take home is, often your snacking isn’t monitored or recorded in any way. So we don’t have a true handle on what or how much you’re really eating. All right. Another reason snacking can be a problem for you is that often, your snacks are not planned. I run into this all the time, and maybe this is true for you. Maybe you don’t generally plan to snack, but then you find yourself late in the day, hungry, stressed, tired, and the cookies in the break room are suddenly calling for you, even though you didn’t plan for it.

Or maybe it’s the middle of the day on a Saturday, and by chance don’t have anything going on, like no kid activities, or sports or birthday parties. And maybe you’re a little bored, so you find yourself headed to the kitchen for a granola bar. Even though all that’s not part of your plan. Here’s why this can be problematic for you. If you’re not planning for snacks and then you have them spontaneously, one, you’re less likely to track it. Two, you’re less likely to remember it later, and three, they often tend to be on the fly. So you’re grabbing convenience foods, which typically means ultra-processed stuff like cookies and chips.

If this happens often enough in the span of a week, as you can imagine that adds up quickly. And it can add up to just enough to keep you from losing weight. All right. Another hiccup you may run into is that your snacks are often both small and frequent. This is especially true for my grazers out there. As an example, I had one client who really loved candy. And come every fall, she stocked up and had a habit of eating multiple handfuls of Candy Corn throughout the day.

She worked from home, and this would start shortly after she woke up in the morning and continue all throughout the day; a handful here, handful there. And it was really challenging for her to keep track of this habit, because there were so many unplanned handfuls of candy corn that she had no idea how much she was eating. And as you can imagine, that made it really hard for her to lose weight.

This especially applies to candy, in particular. Candy can be tough, because it’s usually small, it’s easy, it’s fast, and you’re not really thinking about it. You have a mini-Hershey bar after lunch, a handful of Sour Patch Kids midway through the afternoon, a piece of licorice after dinner, a mini pack of M&M’s before you clean up the kitchen for the night.

So that’s a total of four small snacks of candy. And each one individually may not make a huge impact on your bottom line. But when you combine all of that in the span of one day, plus whatever other snacks you’ve had, it can add up to quite a bit. And if you do that every day for a week, that’s enough to keep you from losing weight.

To go back to self-monitoring here, and my client for just a second, you are less likely to go and write down every one of those handfuls of Candy Corn when there are multiple handfuls to record in the first place. So in my coaching experience, I found that for some of you, the more there is to record, the less likely you are to do it.

So I’ve found time and time again, the more you snack the less you record. And that makes it hard to know what’s really going on. And you’re less likely to record those snacks for a number of reasons. First, it takes time to record what you eat, and you’re already busy so it may not be so easy to pull out your food journal for every handful of candy you have.

Or maybe you forget, because there are so many little handfuls of candy it’s hard to remember them all. Or maybe you just straight up don’t want to know. It may be that you just don’t want to know how many pieces of candy, or whatever other snack it is, that you’re eating. You don’t want to see it for real, in recorded form, in front of you. This comes up all the time.

And again, I’ve addressed this on the podcast before when I talked about self-monitoring, because it’s a real barrier that keeps many of you from moving forward. You just don’t want to know. But this is where I can help you. My goal is to help you use self-monitoring as a tool, not as a weapon, to help you see the reality of what you’re eating. And once you have that information, I will help you process whatever feelings come up when you see it in front of you. I’m going to help you walk through it so you can make different decisions in the future, decisions you feel good about.

This is part of the process of change. This is an essential part of the process, getting real and honest with yourself by self-monitoring in some way, and then working through the feelings that come up when you do that.

So when I have a client who is willing to go all in and do the hard work, and really pay attention to all of the tastes, the bites, the handfuls, and the snacks that she’s had, that can be eye opening. And that’s when things start to really change.

I want to be really, really honest here and veer off for just a second. Most of my clients at the start will tell me the same thing, “I don’t eat that much.” I would say that at least 80% of my clients who work with me on weight loss will swear up and down that they’re not eating that much. And it may be true for some of them.

It may be that they’re not eating that much, at least at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But it’s everything in between. It’s all the snacking in between, it’s all the little bites and handfuls and taste of things that they may not even be aware of. That’s the problem. That’s where there’s a disconnect.

But when she is willing to get very real and look for it, and she finds that her snacking is actually more than she thought, and it’s getting in the way of her goals, then we’re onto something. And the purpose of this work is not for her to start beating herself up when she realizes her snacking is the reason she’s not losing weight. That is not it at all.

The point is awareness; you cannot change what you aren’t aware of. So if you make a commitment to pay attention to your snacks, you may find things you don’t like, and it’s an opportunity for you to work on it. This is not about beating yourself up, okay? The goal is not to beat yourself up if you find you graze on candy throughout the day.

Instead, this is about being honest with yourself and changing what you don’t love and changing your habits from a place of self-kindness and compassion.

Okay, I know I just went off on an aside there for a second. But the take home here is that often your snacks are small and frequent, and if you’re not paying attention to them they can add up super quick, especially if you’re not doing any sort of self-monitoring.

I just went over a number of reasons that snacking might be a problem for you. Now, let’s take a minute and try to solve for why you may be over snacking in the first place. Maybe some of these are things you struggle with too, and I want to help you with solutions. So what are things that contribute to over snacking? The first thing I commonly see is that your main meals are not filling enough. I see this all the time; it is a common pattern. You have a small breakfast, followed by a small lunch, and those meals are often scarce on protein, fiber, and healthy fat, so that by midafternoon you are hangry and that is when the snacking starts.

Some of you don’t eat enough at breakfast and lunch because you’re saving calories for dinner. Many of you have shared that you’re nervous about eating too much during the day, so you go super late on meals so that you can eat a big dinner. But generally, this does not work. Saving your calories for a big dinner, more often than not, this totally backfires. This approach often leaves you unsatisfied for most of the day. And eventually, you get to a tipping point of feeling overly hungry, and you’ve got a hard time holding out for dinner so you start snacking.

The subsequent snacking plays out in a few ways. It may be that you’re at work, and you start snacking on stuff from the break room. Or you get something from the vending machine. Or you start hammering on the chocolate from someone else’s desk. Just anything to take the edge off the hunger.

Or it may be that you make it home from work without snacking, but then you walk in the door and it’s “out of my way” and straight to the pantry or the fridge for snacks while you get dinner together. And that snacking ends up being a cascade of bites and handfuls and tastes of things before you even sit down to the dinner table.

You often justify it by saying, “Well, I haven’t eaten enough today. I earned this. I should have this,” but you overshoot it. So the takeaway here is that when your main meals are not filling enough, that is a setup to leaving you overly hungry, which often results in you ultimately overdoing it on your snacks, especially later in the day. All right.

Another factor that contributes to overdoing it on snacking is not related to hunger at all. It’s emotional eating. And while I’ve mentioned it before, I’ll mention it again here. I think of emotional eating as eating for any reason other than true physical hunger. So that could be emotions like boredom, anger, sadness, happiness. Really any of these, you’re eating an emotion instead of processing it.

And while this kind of stacking can manifest in any number of ways, I’ll share with you the two most common ways I see this play out for my clients. The first would be boredom snacking, especially on the weekend. This tends to happen when you’re home and you don’t have a ton of plans, so you’re not racing from one thing to the next, your day is not heavily scheduled like all your other days are, and you find yourself making trips to the kitchen for various random snacks you otherwise wouldn’t be having.

The snacking isn’t because you’re hungry, but it’s because you have nothing to do. And boredom is not an emotion many of my clients have practice managing because they’re usually busy. And this may be the case for you, too.

So when you are confronted with boredom, and if you’re not used to it and it feels weird and unnatural not to be racing, a natural and common response to that emotion is to buffer it with food. This comes up all the time; you eat your boredom instead of processing that emotion. You don’t sit with boredom, you don’t allow that feeling, you just snack to fill up that space in your brain. And then the other way I most commonly see this play out is stress snacking after dinner and bedtime. For many of you, your weekdays and your weeknights, they are a race. It’s up early in the morning, maybe getting your kids ready for an off to school, work all day, then home for the nighttime routine of dinner, extracurricular stuff, maybe kid homework, chores, laundry, pets, all the things.

And you’re smashing so many things into a short amount of time, you’re like a machine. You’re not really thinking, you’re moving. And it’s a race to the finish of bedtime. And then, when the night is essentially done, everyone’s in bed, pets and kids and family all sleeping, and you finally have a minute to breathe, you go for food.

I think of it as a release. It’s a release of all the stress that you’ve dealt with from the day. Sometimes, well, really oftentimes, you’re going and going and going, and you don’t have any time to think, let alone pee or sit or process, and there’s so much noise built up from the day. And when the day is done, and that noise is finally quiet, and you’re left with you in your brain, that’s where you find the leftover stress that you haven’t managed.

In that end-of-the-day quiet, that’s when it all comes out, all of the stress you’ve hung on to all day long because you’ve been too busy running. You buffer and manage that stress with food, instead of finding other more healthy ways of dealing with it. Things like, breathing or exercise or stretching or walking or meditating.

Instead, like boredom, you eat your stress instead of processing it. And this time, nighttime, when decision fatigue sets in and willpower is nowhere to be found, this is where I see the cascade of snacking. Where it’s one snack after another after another. This is where you have a second dinner made of snacks. And this can be especially difficult for some of you.

So while both boredom and nighttime stress are two of the most common emotions I see that are managed by extra snacking, really, it can be any emotion that leads you to start snacking. The key feature here is that it’s not true physical hunger driving your eating. You’re eating an emotion that’s meant to be processed.

Again, that’s what we do in coaching. I help you manage your emotions without eating. Because when you learn how to manage the emotion of stress, or boredom, or any emotion for that matter, without eating, that is when unnecessary snacking stops. That’s when you lose weight. And that’s when you’ve got peace around food. All right?

Next, Another factor that contributes to over snacking is the straight up habit. It may be that you’ve trained yourself to snack at certain times a day. For me, I noticed for myself that my Apple Watch actually triggered a snacking habit that I wasn’t really paying attention to. I would find myself seated at my desk for long periods working in the afternoon.

And then my watch would vibrate and say, “Hey, it’s time to stand.” So I get up and I move around. But instead of just walking around my office or going outside, I walk to the kitchen and go straight to the fridge or the pantry for a snack, even though I wasn’t even hungry.

You may notice your own patterns of snacking that are more habit than true hunger. Is it that by midafternoon, when lunch is over but dinner is still a few hours away, you instinctively head to the break room for a snack to deal with the midafternoon slump even though you’re not even hungry?

Or are you used to having a snack after dinner, just because that’s what you’ve been doing for years? So even though you’ve just cleaned up dinner and you’re not even hungry, you go and grab a few handfuls of popcorn because that’s what you’ve trained your brain to do; because that’s what you do every day.

For some of you. It’s a set routine that’s well-worn out of habit but it has nothing to do with hunger. And the idea here is to consider your patterns. Look at your habits. There may be times during your day that you’re reaching for snacks strictly out of habit, but you’re not even hungry. And if you’re snacking out of habit instead of hunger, it’s likely because your brain goes on autopilot at a certain time, or when you’re in a certain place, or when your watch alerts you, and hunger has nothing to do with it. But your brain is so used to it that it becomes automatic and expects the snack, regardless of how hungry you are. Okay?

Now that we’ve pulled this apart, and we’ve taken a look at why snacking might be a problem for you and the factors that contribute to snacking, we’ll talk about what you can do about it. Let’s talk about what to do if snacking is a problem for you.

And to be clear, this is not a plot to talk you out of snacking. Okay? I want to make that super clear. My goal for this episode is not to tell you to stop stalking. Instead, my goal is to help you decide if and how snacks fit into your day, and how to keep them from becoming a detriment to your nutrition.

There are plenty of people who eat snacks, and it’s not a problem. It doesn’t get out of hand, it’s not mindless, and it doesn’t lead to weight gain. But for you, if snacking is keeping you from staying on track with your health and fitness goals, let’s talk about what to do about it.

First, you may be saying this to yourself already but let me shout it out, if you want to manage your snacks better have a plan. If you want to change up the way you eat or if you want to lose weight, you need a plan. And when I say that, what I mean is, decide on a number of meals and snacks you’ll have in a day and then practice sticking to it.

Make the decision upfront. But don’t stop there. Once you decide how many snacks you’ll have in a day, take it a step further and decide what your snacks are going to be. Just like your meals, plan your snacks in advance.

And this is in contrast to the wait-and-see approach, where you wait it out and see if you get hungry. And then if you do get hungry, but you don’t have anything on hand, you end up with a trip to the vending machine for a bag of Cheetos or Oreos. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a position where you’re hungry, you want a snack, but you’ve got nothing to eat. That’s when you end up making decisions you’re not thrilled about later.

One of the things I will do is brainstorm with clients a number of go-to snack ideas so they’re always prepared. We’ll look at their days, their lives, their schedules, and their food preferences. And together, we’ll decide on a couple of snack ideas. I encourage you to do the same for yourself. Think through some snack ideas that make sense for you, write them down, and then make them part of your meal plan.

And what I mean by this, is make your snacks make sense. If your workday is crazy, and you don’t have time to race to the microwave to heat up something, choose something easy like a string cheese and an apple. Or if you have a snack on your way home from work to keep you from eating everything in your path when you walk through the door, yogurt in a cup that you have to eat with a spoon, that’s not going to work.

Make your snacks make sense. I know this seems obvious, but I’ve run into this before. So take into account where and when you’ll be having the snack and plan for all the details. And yeah, this is not fancy. This should not be an ordeal, and this is not a huge process. It’s listing out some snacks, working them into your plan, and then following your plan. This is not an overly involved process but it’s essential to set you up for success. It comes back to having a plan, always.

Alright, next, let’s talk about the ‘what’ of your snacks. If you want to optimize your snacks, you can. You can do that by making them centered around protein. It’s no secret that the majority of snacks in America are ultra-processed food items that largely consist of carbs plus or minus fat. So, think bags of pretzels, or goldfish crackers or cookies. Those snacks are missing protein.

You’ve heard me talk about protein a number of times already, and I’ll say it again, protein is essential. It keeps you full, it keeps you satisfied. It’s less calorically dense than fat. It takes more calories to digest than either carbs or fat. And despite all of these good things, too many snacks are either carbs or fat focused; a bag of pretzels, a couple Sour Patch Kids, pita chips, or multiple handfuls of trail mix, a scoop of peanut butter.

Sure, you’ll get some protein from the trail mix or peanut butter, but you’ll also get more fat. Instead, make your snacks centered around protein. Things like a string cheese stick with a piece of fruit, Greek yogurt with fruit, tuna and crackers. Don’t make protein an afterthought. Make it the first thing you think of when you plan for your snacks.

When I’m working with clients, we’ll do exactly that. I will challenge my clients to ensure that they’re focused on building their snacks around protein instead of skipping it altogether. Start with the protein and add whole-grain carbs or healthy fats to it. Okay?

Last, the next thing you can do to manage your over snacking, is to work on managing your emotions instead of eating through them. If you want to stop boredom snacking or nighttime stress snacking, or really any snacking for reasons other than hunger, you know where I’m going with this one. Learn to process your emotions. Feel your feelings.

And that means managing your urges and actually feeling the discomfort of whatever emotion that is driving you to snack, instead of snacking. So feel the stress of your long, hard, busy day, and do it without Oreos. I know, that’s not an easy sell. It’s a lot, a lot, a lot easier to open the pantry and start chowing down on chips, or eating handful after handful of trail mix, or going into the freezer and eating 1, 2, 3 spoonfuls of ice cream after a super stressful day. That’s a lot easier in the moment anyway.

But think about what the cumulative effect of that snacking is. You know what it gets you, instant gratification. It gets you miserable comfort. But you usually don’t feel awesome after it is all said and done, in fact, you end up feeling worse. And the emotion that you’re looking to buffer by snacking ends up being replaced with guilt and shame after you’ve overdone it on the snacks. This is a losing battle. Eating your emotions, snacking your way through your emotions, that does not solve any of your problems. So, if I can help you gain control over your relationship with food, and if you do nothing else, try this. Work on your emotional eating.

I have given you loads of tools in previous episodes of this podcast: How to establish a plan, living up to your standards, practicing discipline, how to feel, managing urges, staying in the game, walking through your emotions instead of avoiding them. All of those are tools in your pocket. And they’re there to help you feel instead of eat.

When you’re willing to do the hard work, when you’re willing to practice managing your emotions, and feel all of the negative stuff that comes up instead of buffering it with food, that’s when things start to change. When you feel an emotion all the way through, instead of stopping short and heading to the kitchen for something chocolatey, that’s it. That’s when food starts to lose its power over you. That’s when snacking becomes less important. And that is huge.

There it is, we just went over why snacking can be a problem for you, the factors that contribute to your over snacking, and then most importantly, what to do about it. So, I hope that something you heard today resonates. I was really excited to break this down and offer you a number of different ideas to consider in relation to your own snacking.

And my suggestion is, try something out. Consider a plan for yourself. Have some go-to snacks in mind and make them make sense. Have them with you when you need them most. Practice awareness, and notice when you’re snacking for reasons other than hunger. Notice whether your snacking is related to true hunger, or if it’s more of a habit.

And then of course, go back to your feelings. This is the deep work. This is beyond a bag of Cheetos here. Challenge yourself to feel whatever emotions that are driving you to snack instead of eating. This is a big one, but it’s so essential. You can build up to this. But at the end of the day, if you want to get a hold of your snacking, start. Start now. Try something and see what happens.

If you want help with this, let’s talk. When you coach with me, we take a close look at your habits, including snacking. We’ll create a meal plan including your snacks, and then you’ll practice implementing it. I will equip you with the tools you need to make it your lifestyle. So check out my website, send me a message at www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact and let’s get going. Alright? Thank you again for hanging out with me. I’ll catch you again next week.

If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. Share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you.

This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. You know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.

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