Top 5 Strategies for Managing Snacking & Cravings

Top 5 Strategies for Managing Snacking & Cravings By: Megan Kelly, CNP

Strategies for Managing Snacking & Cravings - Durham Natural Health Centre
Strategies for Managing Snacking & Cravings – Durham Natural Health Centre

As a holistic nutritionist, I am getting a lot of inquiries right now from clients, family and friends about how to slow down the constant snacking at home. There seems to be a lot of anxiety about weight gain at the moment given that people are stuck at home, not moving as much and the kitchen cupboard is always nearby.

First and foremost, we will need to work through the mindset portion of this. We are all dealing with unprecedented circumstances and that is taking an emotional and physical toll on all of us in one way or another. This might bring up feelings that we haven’t had to deal with in a while, or amplify those that we battle on a consistent basis. So, at this time, I want you to know that it’s ok if you’ve been eating a little more than normal, snacking for pleasure or even binging here and there. You are not alone.

Please do not feel you need to punish yourself for overeating. You are worthy of food, of nourishment, and of feeling good.

You are also worthy of health and happiness, so if you have developed eating patterns that are making you feel less than ideal or are causing flare up in undesirable symptoms, it is also ok to seek help and intervention.

Here are a few strategies to consider to get you started toward managing cravings so that you feel you have a little more control over those snacking habits!

1) ADDRESS THE STRESS

Stress places a high demand on our adrenals, which use several important minerals to produce our stress hormones. As a consequence, chronic stress depletes minerals, particularly sodium and magnesium. When we are deficient in a nutrient, your body will crave foods that contain high amounts of them. As it turns out, chocolate is a potent and tasty source of magnesium and chips are a favourite source of sodium. If you find you’re craving these types of foods, stress management may be the key.

Given that stress is naturally pretty high right now, this step is more important than ever! Consider stress management techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and getting outside for a walk!

2) AMP UP YOUR MEALS

Raise your hand if you have skipped breakfast to save room for snacks later in the day! Most of us will have just raised our hand and that’s ok, but this is the first thing we need to stop doing if we’re going to reduce hunger cravings and address blood sugar imbalances.

To prevent hunger and sugar cravings all throughout the day we need to ensure we are getting enough nutrition in our meals. That starts with breakfast! Aim to eat a well rounded breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up.

Then, keep regular lunch and dinner times. Make these meals large and full of nutrition. Think protein, healthy fats and loads of veggies!

Please reach out if you need help managing blood sugar imbalances. Not being hungry first thing in the morning is often a sign that there is already some blood sugar dysregulation at play.

3) PLAN FOR IT

Keeping stress down and rounding out your meals might start to reduce certain cravings but it’s unlikely to eliminate them altogether. Plus, enjoying a bit of a treat for dessert can serve as something so joyful! So, instead of even trying to deny yourself, what if we PLANNED on having a treat on a semi-regular (maybe even daily) basis!

When we plan to incorporate an indulgence, it reduces the likelihood that we will mindlessly reach for something else that is less than ideal throughout the day. When we have planned a treat, we don’t have to battle with our mind about whether we should or should not, we don’t have to negotiate with our willpower, we’re less likely to cave early and overdo it and we won’t feel deprived! It also eliminates any sense of guilt that we often place on ourselves when we say, “I won’t give in to my cravings” and then we do.

Enjoying a treat is not something to feel bad about, especially if you’re choosing them with intension and maybe even making some of your own at home… which brings me to my next points.

4) UPGRADE YOUR SNACKS

Nowadays there are so many “healthified” alternatives to your favourite snacks! When you’re planning out what your treats will be for the week, consider upgrading!  

Here are a few things to consider that will upgrade your snacking options:

When you’re ready to take it the extra mile, here are a few swaps you can make that might hit the same spot without really being an indulgence:

  • Think about using hummus or guacamole as a pairing for your veggies or crackers instead of cheese, processed meats or ranch dips.
  • Try dried fruit instead of candy.
  • Consider spiced nuts, coconut chips or apple chips when you want something crunchy.
  • Go for kombucha or a mix of juice and soda water instead of soda

And, when you’re ready to really commit to better snacking habits, dive into the next suggestion!

5) MAKE IT YOURSELF!

There are a few benefits to making your own sweet treats! First of all, you can upgrade them to exclude inflammatory or unwanted ingredients. Second of all, you can upgrade them to include healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients. Thirds of all, doing those two things will make your tasty treat way more satisfying as you will be giving your body the nutrition it needs (not just the calories it needs!) to feel full and energized.

Start with a few of these simple “healthified craving busters”.  All of these recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and delicious:

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