B2 High-Intermediate US 190 Folder Collection
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So when I work from home, I snack constantly and then by dinner time I'm not even hungry.
Even when I used to study for exams, I would eat all day.
And a lot of people have told me the same thing!
So I started to wonder... why we can't stop snacking.
And, perhaps, is there a way that I can kick the habit?
First of all – snacking isn't always bad.
If you're hungry you should eat.
But we often reach for snacks when we're not hungry at all.
And often, it's simply because the food is there.
We're “opportunistic” eaters and snacking at the sight of food might be a leftover survival instinct.
Because there's an evolutionary psychology explanation for everything!
But research does suggest that our brain is put on high alert just at the sight of high-carb and high-fat foods.
In one study, people were shown photos of food and kitchen utensils.
Straight after a photo, a circle would appear, and people had to tap a key to say if the circle was above, below or opposite the item.
When participants saw a high-energy food, like a slice of pizza, they hit the keys more quickly than when they saw cucumber or a fork.
The researchers suggest that, our brain can analyse the energy content in food just from a brief glance and ramp up our decision making speed.
Of course packaging and advertising can nudge us towards certain snack foods.
But other than these external cues, our feelings can drive us to eat as well.
We often crave high-fat and sugary foods when we're sad, angry, or stressed or even just bored.
We've all experience that!
But this emotional eating isn't driven by the feelings themselves – it comes from how people cope with their emotions.
And we've seen this in research, too.
In a series of studies, one group of people were asked to suppress their reactions during a violent movie scene.
After the movie, these people ate more comfort foods than other groups who could react spontaneously.
And everyone ate equal amounts of bland food.
In this case, bottling up emotions, led people to eat more sugary and fatty snacks.
Of course, we don't just snack when we have these feelings.
Sometimes, we snack out of tradition — like having popcorn at the movies.
Snacks aren't inherently bad, but in excess, they can contribute to patterns of overeating, binge-eating and other related problems.
But luckily, we know why snacks hold this power over us.
And there are some steps we can use to take back control.
If you're in the mood for a snack, first ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry?”
Take a second to assess can help you avoid eating when you don't need to.
Try to avoid keeping your house stocked with snack foods… like I do.
Remember you often eat because it's there.
Try swapping out comfort foods for healthy snacks.
So a sweet piece of fruit or handful of nuts could be enough to satisfy a craving.
And, try to get more sleep!
Research suggests that being sleep deprived might increase your desire for fatty, high-carb foods.
If it is a continued problem, try to keep a food log.
If you have to jot down every snack you eat, you'll think more about when and why you're eating.
And if you suspect your snacking might be part of a larger problem, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Now remember that snacking is not always bad.
But in my case, I've come to realise that I was snacking constantly as a distraction.
Because it was way easier to go and find food than to deal with what I was actually meant to be doing.
Simply realising that can really help if you do want to switch from mindless grazing to mindful eating.
And in my case, I'm getting through a bit more work, but most importantly, I still have room for dinner.
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Why You Can't Stop Snacking

190 Folder Collection
Jessieeee published on June 10, 2019
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