Have you ever started a diet for a few days, but before things even got bad, you called it quits?
I was just talking to someone who said they knew how to eat healthy. Yet despite their best intention, but no matter what, they couldn’t get themselves to enjoy eating healthy. This lead to frequent situations where they couldn’t stop snacking.
She would come home after a long day of work. She would have a few minutes at home before she had to go pick up her kids, and she knew healthy snack options. Yet she’d always go for insane amounts of crackers.
She knew what to eat, but she just simply didn’t want to eat it. Then she’d continue snacking for the rest of the day.
So today we’re going to talk about the principal of getting addicted to fullness.
1 – Understand Habit Loops – We have to understand that our emotions, our subconscious minds, get addicted to pleasure.
2 – Use Habit Loops To Reward Self-Care Behavior Instead of Eating – Us humans we have to see how pleasure forms automatic habits. We can use these insights to get the same rewards we do out of eating, but instead of eating we take care of ourselves.
3 – Notice Emotional Pleasure After You Eat Healthy – You must make conscious effort to notice how healthy foods make you feel better after you eat them. Fullness or food satisfaction can actually be addicting and we can harness this principal to become addicted to healthier foods.
So let’s dive in.
How To Stop Snacking At Night Commentary:
Let’s talk about a habit real quick.
This woman and the above story, she had to have it of coming home after work. During this time while she was alone, she would eat tons of crackers.
So this eating pattern was something that she did automatically. Some days she didn’t even have to think before she was eating crackers.
So this is a habit. Do you see how her pattern reflects the cue, routine and reward you see in the image above?
How did the habit form to become so automatic? At some point she experienced pleasure and associated with peanut butter crackers.
Now it might seem weird this idea of pleasure. Especially because this woman feels a lot of guilt after eating crackers. Yet pleasure is how habits form.
So how is this woman getting pleasure out of the peanut butter crackers?
Well, she’s distracting herself from stress. She’s been working for other people the whole day. She hasn’t given herself any time for self care, so the crackers are a way of taking time for herself.
And there’s a little bit of excitement, and let’s face it, crackers taste good. So these good feelings they all are pleasurable, and our brain starts to expect these good feelings.
After enough experiences, our brain begins to crave these experiences. And this craving becomes very very strong and automatic.
Even if we don’t want the food, our brain will think thoughts of the food!
So how to stop snacking at night, despite these automatic habits?
One vitally important principle is getting addicted to fullness and food satisfaction. What is fullness and food satisfaction? It’s a pleasurable feeling, that is more subtle than sugar, but ultimately feels way better.
What do I mean by this? When you eat tons of crackers you do get a short-term burst of extreme pleasure. But then you feel guilty. And here’s what we have to do…
You notice how bad and how unpleasant it is to be hungry a short while later after you eat.
There’s another fascinating article by Health.com about different reasons why we snack at night. I’m focusing on pleasure on this article, but if you want more resources you can click here to read more.
This is making your brain and emotions associate unpleasant emotions with not being full.
Let’s face it. After you eat, it’s no fun and doesn’t feel good if you have to eat again right away.
But that’s what this woman was doing, the crackers didn’t fill her up. She was eating tons of crackers, but then she wasn’t getting satisfied. She wasn’t getting full.
And this doesn’t feel good. So without any guilt or judgment, I asked her to really start paying attention to what this was like. Also, for her to pay close attention to how she felt in her body.
This is how to stop snacking at night – drop the judgment. Listen to your body.
In comparison, what we started working on, was having her add some peanut butter to her crackers. After crackers, she would wash them down with some milk.
This way even though she was having some extra food from the peanut butter and milk, she would have way less crackers. The beautiful thing is, she wouldn’t need to snack for a few more hours, until dinner.
So before she was snacking for a few hours after she got home but before dinner.
But now, she was really tuning into the fullness of eating not just crackers but peanut butter and milk as well. These gave her vital resources of fat and protein.
She started changing her habits once she started noticing how good it felt to become full, as opposed to the feeling of not being full. Why? Because this simply felt a lot better.
So she started naturally wanting to just have a regular snack, and not going crazy over crackers. So this is how she started changing her habits.
The point I wanted to really emphasize was the pleasing nature of fullness.
If you are constantly snacking, odds are, you are getting some short-term benefits out of snacking, and your addicted to the short-term benefits. If you integrate a bit more fat and protein, and really pay attention to the feelings of fullness, you can reduce your snacking habit.
Let me know if you have any questions, peace!