8 tips for cutting unconscious snacking, according to experts

Sometimes snacking is simply out of habit, not hunger. FotoDuets/ iStock
  • You might be snacking more than you realise.
  • There are ways to consciously cut out snacking.
  • From keeping food diaries to drinking more water, there are ways to curb your snacking habit.

Having a snack is totally fine, and even encouraged. But if you find yourself munching on chips or cookies out of boredom rather than hunger, it may be wise to pay attention to your eating habits, as you may be unconsciously snacking without even knowing it.

To help shed some light on those seemingly mindless snacking habits, we consulted two dietitians and a medical doctor for some tips on how to nip unconscious snacking in the bud before it gets out of hand. Below are some important things they recommend keeping in mind next time you reach for that midday snack.

Keep a food journal.

You will likely be more mindful of what you are eating. Ryan Snyder/Flickr

When you keep a food journal, you tend to be more mindful of not only what you’re eating but how it makes you feel when you eat it.

“Keep a food journal and log how you are feeling each time you have a meal or snack,” suggested registered dietitian Summer Yule, MS, RDN. “This can help you to be more mindful of your eating habits and may shed some light on times of the day when you are most likely to unconsciously graze.”

Reorganise your pantry and fridge.

Giving your pantry a freshen up can really help. Flickr via mullica

“Push cereal boxes to the back of the cupboard and put water bottles (or boxes of tea) in front of them so that you cannot just grab a handful of cereal to snack on without thinking about it,” suggested Yule.

If you have treats like brownies in the fridge, she advised pushing them to the back behind fresh fruits, yogurt, and vegetables. Putting healthy food in your eyesight will help you choose that first.

Schedule a visit with a dietitian.

Dietitians can help with specific strategies. Shutterstock

“If you are really struggling with your eating habits, schedule a visit with a registered dietitian,” Yule told INSIDER. “We can help you to develop strategies that are tailored to your specific situation and needs.”

Eat regular meals.

Starting with breakfast is important. Flickr/vagueonthehow

“Time your meals so that hunger pangs don’t start,” said Dr. Clare Morrison of MedExpress. The most important meal is breakfast, she explained, which ideally should be protein based.

Ensure that your snacks are healthy.

Hard-boiled eggs have lots of protein. Shutterstock

“Replace sugary snacks with alternatives that are high in protein or fibre,” Dr. Morrison told INSIDER. These take longer to digest, which means they’re more satisfying and can keep hunger away for longer, she said.

Increase your water intake.

Water could make you feel less hungry. sonsam/ iStock

“Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger,” Dr. Morrison explained. Consider having a glass of water first, as this may be all you really need, she advised. But of course, if you have a glass of water and you’re still hungry, you’re still hungry and you should eat.

Don’t eat on the go.

If you aren’t thinking about it, you might eat more. Shutterstock

“Grabbing food while you’re thinking about other things not only detracts from the enjoyment of eating but can also make you eat far more than you would otherwise,” Dr. Morrison stated. Sit down at the table and eat with a knife and fork if appropriate, she suggested. This will make you focus on the food and eat more slowly.

Try to keep busy.

When you’re busy, you may not eat just because you’re bored. CHAjAMP/Shutterstock

“Boredom is one of the common reasons for unconscious snacking, so don’t sit around doing nothing,” Dr. Morrison suggested. Plan your day to give it structure.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.