Mindless snacking happens to the best of us, but the secret to overcoming it (and enjoying that popcorn instead of just shoveling it into your mouth) lies in identifying the motivation for your munchies.
"Mindless snacking can be caused by boredom, loneliness, stress, or being unprepared for hunger (reaching for an option we don’t really want because it’s easy and there)," says nutritionist and food blogger Alexandra Dawson.
"Mindful eating is awareness of how the food we choose to eat—how we eat, how much we eat, and why we feel like eating—affects our whole beings."
Who else can relate to the I'm-bored-so-I-guess-I'll-eat mentality? The way to beat this mindset is... well, by doing the opposite of snacking mindlessly. "Mindful eating is awareness of how food—how we eat, how much we eat, and why we feel like eating—affects our whole beings," Dawson adds.
Before you say 'easier said than done,' Dawson has some great tips on how to actually incorporate the practice into your daily relationship with food. Tip number one: Dawson keeps her pantry stocked with options that don't require effort, but still leave her feeling satisfied, like JUSTIN'S® nut butters.
"I love adding JUSTIN'S® Peanut Butter to smoothies (with banana, coconut meat, and cinnamon), adding a big scoop to yogurt bowls, bringing JUSTIN'S® Almond Butter Squeeze Packs along when I’m out, and also enjoying the occasional spoonful right out of the jar," Dawson says. And who's not down for a snacking method that lets you eat almond butter by the spoon?
Keep reading for 3 snack ideas that'll keep you from mindlessly munching—without having to give up your pantry faves.
1. Stock up strategically
Swiping everything in sight off the snack aisle shelves is your inner child's fantasy, but it won't exactly do you any favors when you're standing in front of your pantry looking for something nourishing that won't leave you hungry again in an hour. (#Adulting.)
"Stock your pantry and fridge with nutrient-dense options," Dawson says. "If they’re in sight and accessible, you’re more likely to reach for them." For Dawson, that means raw nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and JUSTIN'S® nut butters—none of which require any preparation at all. All you have to do is reach, snack, and let the hanger dissipate.
2. Listen to your body
Dawson's biggest tip is to only snack when you're truly hungry, but how can you tell the difference between snacking out of hunger and letting your bored brain take over as chef?
Dawson's suggestion is rather than heading straight toward your pantry, first try to drink a few ounces of water. If you're behind on your hydration goal for the day, the snack attack should fade away. If your hunger persists, it's probably time to dig in.
If the water doesn't hit the spot, opt for one of Dawson's favorite snacks: one of her homemade grain-free breads or bagels smeared with JUSTIN'S® Almond Butter, sliced banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Who says snack time has to be boring?
3. Reduce distractions
Think about when you're usually snacking. Are you scrolling through Instagram? Flipping through TV shows? Blankly staring into your fridge?
"Step away from devices to really be present in the process of eating and how that meal is making you feel physically and emotionally," Dawson suggests.
Snacking often accompanies other activities (which is how you end up with the shirt full of popcorn crumbs), so by instead giving your mini-meal your undivided attention, you'll be more in tune with how much you're really enjoying it. Did snacking just become part of your wellness routine?
In partnership with the maker of the JUSTIN'S® brand
Top photo: Studio Firma/Stocksy
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