Four tips to help you stop snacking

Are you finding it hard to break the habit of snacking after the school holidays? Read four tips to help you stop picking your way through the day and eat more healthily.

Have you, like many of us, succumbed to a new daily routine in the school holidays? One of waking, dressing and even eating when you like? Pain au chocolat at 10am? Lunch at 3pm? Don’t mind if I do!

Nutritional therapist Claire Stone shares four tips to help you stop snacking and retrain your body back into a more healthy workday routine.

Has your ability to stop eating disappeared?

The summer is, so they say, the best season we have in the UK, but this year it often felt like the weather didn’t get the memo. And if you were lucky enough to get away from working to spend some quality time sitting in a damp tent in a wet field with your family, you can be forgiven for drowning your sorrows in a feast of coffee, cake, pizza and wine.

Now that the summer has gone and it’s time to hit your desk full(ish) time again, you’re probably full of good intentions to drop the daily cake-habit – but noticing something really weird.

Whereas before the school holidays, you were perfectly able to go from breakfast right through until elevenses, you are now already prowling around the cupboards by about 9.30, wondering what snack might fill you up for longer than 30 minutes.

There’s no need to feel bad about it. I’m doing the same, and I’m a nutritionist (even if I’m not eating like one right now)!

Four tips to help you stop snacking

I figured if I’m struggling to ditch the holiday eating style, you might be too. So here are my four tips to help you stop snacking and get back to eating better (whatever that might mean for you – no judgement here from the chocolate-loving nutritionist)!

1) Realise that you’re thirsty, not hungry

I always drink at least half a pint of water every morning before I do anything else. It’s what I do to rehydrate after a fabulous (ahem) sleep and to prep my body and brain for the day.

Except, during the holidays, things don’t quite happen in their usual routine, and my water habit seems to have slipped by the wayside. Which isn’t terrible – after all, I live in a house with taps so I can easily grab a glass of water any time I want.

But the thing is, without my early morning glass of water, my thirst alarm gets switched off, and I barely register thirst for the rest of the day. Post-holidays, all I feel is HUNGRY.

Hunger is the thing that my brain notices on an almost hourly basis at the moment. Hunger instead of thirst. And even though I know that I simply cannot be hungry just 45 minutes after lunch, my hunger alarm is going off, and hey ho, it’s off to the cupboard I go.

So, I’m forcing myself (yes, it’s pretty much a case of forcing myself in the post-camping phase because being dehydrated then means one less night-time trip to the loo) to drink at least a half pint of warm water each and every single morning. Before I do anything else. Before I shower, eat, or have a nice cup of tea. Do the same, and you’ll notice the difference really quickly.

2) Get a good amount of vitamins and minerals

Summer holiday eating isn’t, as you can quite easily imagine, not exactly full of the nutrients that we need to fill our bodies and brains with the good stuff they need to function properly.

Which means, after a while, we are going to be deficient in something. What that something is for each person, I can’t say. But the chances are, you need a vitamin and mineral boost.

You can, if you prefer, hit yourself up with a good quality multi-vitamin for a few weeks to top up your levels, but as a nutritionist, I prefer to start with the real deal.

As a business owner, I don’t have time to prep the perfect superfood salad every day, so instead, I aim to drink a fresh fruit or veg juice every single day. Ideally one with a good mix of greenery in there, but even just a splash of fresh OJ will do the trick. (My book The Juice Party has 10 easy recipes if you need some inspiration.)

3) Ditch the sugar

Holiday foods tend to be pretty high on the sugar scale – icecream, lollies, drinks on the veranda (we don’t have a veranda FYI), cakes etc. Which means you are probably in a bit of a vicious sugar rush/sugar dip cycle.

Even if you aren’t craving sweet stuff, chances are you are still hitting the blood sugar levels with refined carbs such as white bread, pasta and rice.

Now, I’m not going all paleo on you – that’s far too big a topic for this post – but I am suggesting you increase your protein a little to help bring a little stability to your life.

Think: nuts and seeds (add to breakfast), eggs, fish and good quality meat. All those things will help balance out the sugar hits which means you won’t start craving more and more and more and more.

4) Get back into your normal eating routine

One of the biggest issues (and one of the biggest joys, as far as I am concerned) about holiday eating is the lack of a rigid eating schedule.

I’m not suggesting that you live your normal life in a restricted schedule, but the day does tend to go  in a pretty regular fashion, ie: Morning = eat breakfast. Midday = eat lunch. Early/late evening = eat dinner. And those things tend to happen at approximately the same time each day.

Except when you are on holiday. Late breakfast, followed by mid-morning snack can mean that lunch becomes a mid-afternoon affair, for example.

So try to get back into your regular routine as quickly as possible, even if you don’t really feel the need. Which means even if you don’t fancy breakfast, try having something – even if just a handful of nuts – to get you going. And if jumping back into work means you seem to skip lunch, or have just the random croissant that you found at the back of the bread bin.

Getting back into eating regularly might involve slightly more planning than usual, but believe me, it really is worth it when you realise you can go from lunch to dinner with only an apple for a snack.

What are your anti-snacking tips?

I’m sure there are plenty of other tips for getting back into the swing of eating well, but these ones work best for me and my clients. I’d love to hear what works for you!

Want more healthy eating tips?

You’ll find more advice in these articles:

Claire Stone works one-on-one with clients to hand craft the right nutritional guidance for them.