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'Tis the season to start snaking on anything and everything in the pantry, and with that snacking comes unnecessary weight gain. It's inevitable: winter snacking is in fact a thing, but there are clever ways to beat bored eating and to keep the number on that scale exactly the same.
1. Make snacks harder to get to.
One reason we snack no matter what time of year is because our favorite sugary sweets are within easy reach. They are at eye level and are just a quick grab away from the shelf to your stomach. If you are determined to not snack, keep these foods hidden on the top shelf or have someone hide them to make it harder for you to chase those potato chips.
2. Prepare healthier options.
If you do happen to buy healthy foods, make these foods even easier to reach by preparing them and then keeping them in containers, so that if you CANNOT keep away from food, then at least healthier options will be available. Part of bored eating is that we are bored, so thinking that you could chop up some celery later just won't happen, so do yourself a favor and prepare some healthy snacks the day before.
3. Keep productively busy.
You can't bored eat if you aren't bored, so get some housework done, run errands, or do anything else that would keep your mind occupied. The key thing here is to keep your mind occupied, so Netflix does not count. This can be hard to do on the weekends or when you get home from work. but your waistline will thank you later. Might be a good time to amp up some at-home workouts...
4. Get out of the house.
This might be even more challenging than the previous option, but it can be done. Out of sight, out of mind definitely applies here, so go out and go to the gym, hang out with friends, or maybe go shopping (but maybe not grocery shopping). You may not even have to get in your car to go outside, try going on a walk or maybe even raking those leaves or playing in the snow.
5. Stock your pantry with healthier foods.
If you must grab something from the pantry, try to make sure it's a healthier option. Pretzels, 100-calorie snack packs, and whole grain bread are just a few ideas to get you started on getting some healthier options into your pantry if you cave (which will happen from time to time, no matter how committed you are). You are also much less likely to go and raid the pantry if all you have are foods that aren't super sugary.
6. Challenge yourself.
Sure, this one may be easy to say and it may not be for everyone, but some people like to see how long they can go without eating. Now, this is not a good mindset to have if you might potentially skip meals, but seeing how long you can last between meals may be a personal challenge. Again, this option is not for everyone, but try it at least once. You can only eat when your stomach starts growling: go!
7. Try a new recipe.
Now, this one might seem counterproductive, but try making a real meal that you have never made before. Making meals takes time, sometimes hours, and you certainly will be kept busy trying to make sure you get your culinary creation as perfect as you can.
It's even better if you can do this with a friend because it's a fun experience. Bored eating is a problem, but exploring your tastes and cooking skills is never a bad idea. It's an even better idea if you try a new recipe to eat instead of just grabbing some microwave popcorn.
8. Have an accountability buddy.
This might sound ridiculous, but it works to have an accountability partner for exercising, so why wouldn't it work with bored eating? It would be best to pick someone that may be living with you or at least a close friend, but set up a consequence for you bored eating. Bored eating can become a habit, but I can guarantee it won't be for long if you are forced to do a chore every time you cave.
9. Drink water instead.
If you feel like you're about to get off the couch and snack, then get some water instead. People usually don't get enough water, so using this as a way to get extra fluids will have body thanking you. Also, if you drink enough water, you may feel that urge to snack go away. Have a bottle of water handy with you at home and see what happens.
10. Write down what you eat.
People who are watching their weight or diets will use a food journal to keep track of what exactly they eat, how much, and when they eat it to identify patterns and plan accordingly. Try it for a week (but this time also adding how hungry you were on a scale from 1 to 10) and you might find that you bored snack more than you realize. Plus, this can be a decent deterrent for some people: they may want to think they only put good food in their stomachs, so they may not want to put it in the journal. Either way, you don't know how you bored eat until you keep track of it.