Tuesday, October 23, 2012
My Weight Watcher's assignment this week was to look at any snacking in which I indulge. I am to record what I eat, what time I eat it and how I feel when I want a snack. All of this information will be recorded on a piece of paper which I will take with me to my next group meeting on Friday. We will discuss our findings at the meeting, but I just wanted to share with others what I've discovered about myself already.
When we were initially discussing the topic of snacking, last week, we listed reasons that people snack. Here are some of the reasons that were mentioned:
Pain both physical and emotional
Because the food is available
Pressured to eat a snack by another person
Because you're actually thirsty
Not eating enough earlier in the day
Not feeling full after a meal
Some nutrients missing from diet
Using food rewards
Eating to take medication
Substituting food for love and affection
The discussion that we had made me think about what my own reasons are for snacking. Writing down my snacks and how I was feeling when I ate them, was an eye opening experience. I eat healthy snacks, during the day, that are planned and that isn't a problem. What is a problem is my evening snacking. I found five things about my snacking habits, that jumped out at me already and it is only day four of my recording. There are occasions when I do others too but the five listed below were reasons that are my most repeated reasons.
First, I snack because I don't get enough fat in my diet. Last night I went through a parade of low calorie snacks before I decided to eat some almonds. Sure enough, as soon as I ate them, I stopped snacking. In my mind, I know that this is nothing new. Putting it into practice is another thing, however. My experience last night made a huge impression and I will now incorporate more healthy fats into my diet. Healthy fats help to make you feel more satisfied and are needed as building blocks for your body.
Second, I snack because I'm fatigued. Right now I'm making a concentrated effort to spread out my activities over the course of the whole day rather than exhausting myself by working out for 2-3 hours in the morning. I'm using a device called an ActiveLink to monitor my daily activity and to help me in this endeavor. I will also head to bed earlier and increase my nightly amount of sleep. Spark People has a great article on what fatigue does to sabotage your good diet intentions.
Third, I snack because my old eating pattern was to eat too little during my day. I've increased the amount that I eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner which has helped tremendously. I also carry snacks with me when I go out, just in case I get really hungry after my workouts.This is an ongoing battle for me since I was raised by a mother who had an eating disorder. As someone who is hypothyroid, not eating enough caused by metabolism to tank even further than was my norm. Tracking my daily food from the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to sleep at night has also been very helpful. Saving up my calories or Weight Watcher's points instead of using them starves my body during the day and is very unhealthy. I'm not going to earn accolades for under eating and I'm not going to starve if I reach the end of my day without calories to spare. I also don't want to force feed snack foods just to achieve my daily calorie and Weight Watcher's point totals. Eating the wrong foods is just as unhealthy as not eating enough. It is time to overhaul my thinking in this department.
Fourth, I tend to medicate myself with food to help me deal with chronic pain as well as emotional pain. This is self defeating and has masked my problems instead of treating my problems. I am now working on activity pacing so that I can decrease my pain without food. Using the pacing to get myself to stop activities before I start to feel pain is also a good way to avoid putting myself in a position where I can do permanent damage to my joints, muscles and spine. I am also dealing with my emotional pain head-on and learning new techniques for coping. My goal is to feel good without medication by using what I've learned and turning things to my own advantage.
Last, using food as a reward. This overlaps with snacking as a habit because using food as a reward has become a habit or an excuse for me to snack. Sometimes I have difficulty separating the two reasons. I have started a non food reward system for myself in an effort to get away from food rewards. At Weight Watchers we have also taken a look at choosing activities that are not food or alcohol based. Celebrating my own achievements without food will go a long way to help me feel good about myself without self defeating behavior. This is a hard one for me to break because I was brought up in a family where food dominated social and reward situations. I can start by learning to love myself as I am right now - without guilt or apology. It's okay for me to share accomplishments with others and accept sincere compliments and attention with grace. I don't need to deny the value of rewards, compliments and recognition to prove that I'm humble or not selfish. We all need to be validated and appreciated. I need to learn to do this for myself. I also need to improve my positive self talk and appreciate as well as celebrate my own talents, achievements and gifts.
Have you taken a look at your snacking habits? Are you using any of the reasons listed above? I would love to have you share your experiences with me.