How I Gave Up Unnecessary Snacking
This is a big, big problem for our society, and it’s growing. Obesity rates in the UK have increased by 12% since 1993, and 62% of men are now overweight.
I’ve explained before how it is indeed a societal phenomenon, rather than a biological one. Yes, maintaining your health and appearance becomes harder as you age on an individual level.
But, realise that current societal norms are making it increasingly harder. A lot harder. The proof is in the pudding when you look at the increases in obesity across all ages.
Simply watch the adverts on TV for more than about 30 seconds, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Staying healthy is not getting easier.
In order to maintain your health and appearance as you age, you must break free from our consumerist culture. It’s a cycle that’s difficult to unshackle yourself from, but it’s possible, and in a minute I will explain how I successfully did this.
In order to break free from this societal trap, you have to fight the marketing that’s been aggressively enforced upon you every day for the past several decades.
As a result of this marketing, there is a deeply implanted message in your subconscious linking junk food to happiness. Now, it isn’t entirely false, as it does give you a small, short-term rush.
But it’s somewhat misguided. It isn’t what you really want, evidently, otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to lose weight and you wouldn’t be listening to me.
The marketing that’s invading your everyday life causes you to prioritise these short-term highs, when they should be at the very bottom of your list of priorities.
This barrage of marketing wherever you look, in my opinion, is the number one reason for people snacking when they don’t need to.
Anyway, enough rambling from me, let’s see how I escaped from this cycle.
How I Escaped The Trap
There are short-term solutions that you can implement straight away, and there are long-term solutions.
I’m going to be completely honest with you, otherwise that would make me just as bad as the misguided messages invading your everyday life.
There’s nothing sexy or magical about it. Here we go:
Escaping the trap took me, personally, about four years to successfully accomplish.
That’s right, four years (!) Most body transformations will claim 6 weeks or so, but it’s not a transformation in my eyes if they can’t maintain their new physique for a full year, with zero relapses. But that’s another topic for another time.
What did I do?
Well, four years ago, I was constantly eating. It was pretty cool in the sense that I was strong as hell, and I’ve only just caught up to this previous strength level recently, at 35 pounds lighter. Although I was strong, it came at an unhealthy cost.
So, why was I constantly eating?
If I had to pick ONE reason, it would be boredom.
What happens when you’re bored? You feel bad.
What happens when you feel bad? Your subconscious, which has already linked food to happiness (due to years of marketing penetrating your everyday life), tells you to go and eat. And boy did I eat.
The evenings were particularly bad for habitual (boredom) eating, and I’m sure you know exactly what I mean 😉 You come home from a long (boring) day at work, college/school/uni, and all you want to do is eat. Now, you’re not legitimately hungry, but there is a strong emotional drive to eat.
It’s boredom, and generally not feeling too great, nothing more. And guess what? These emotional drives are not your fault. To be fair, it’s nobody’s fault, but the misguided marketing certainly isn’t helpful.
People like to say “So what? I like eating all this food. Who cares?”
That’s all fine and dandy, and you can say that all you like, but it’s just a front. These very same people are looking to lose weight for the summer, or during the New Year or whatever, so evidently, gaining weight isn’t what they really want.
They want to remain healthy and look good, just like everyone else. Actions always speak louder than words.
Okay, so what’s the solution to habitual eating?
Ah, that’s where it gets very, very tricky. In the long-term, eliminating boredom essentially requires a radical lifestyle change that’s far beyond the scope of this post.
To be honest, I’m still working on that, and it’s a massive project. It carries over into other areas of excessive consumerism, and it’s difficult to break the link in your mind between this and happiness.
But, I can help you reduce habitual eating massively.
Reducing Habitual Eating
If I was to pick ONE key strategy to help you to reduce habitual eating, it would be:
Create an eating schedule.
Whatever plan works for you, keeps you full, and isn’t too restrictive. Ideally, this eating schedule is going to allow you to eat large meals (read: instead of unnecessary snacks), when you are at your most vulnerable to snacking, and your willpower is at it’s weakest.
In my opinion, Intermittent Fasting is the best solution for most guys who want to lose weight.
Intermittent Fasting allows you to eat larger meals in general, which tends to reduce the need to snack. The real magic, however, is that when you get home from work, you have about 70% of your daily calories to play with, if you follow my advice.
For most of you reading this, 70% equates to about 2000 calories or more (depending on daily activity). This means you can have a very large evening meal, and a small dessert afterwards, without “cheating” on your diet. It’s a part of your diet now.
Compare this to your previous self, who arrives home from work with a miserable 800 calories to work with (to ensure you stay in a negative energy balance, or fat-loss mode). That doesn’t leave much wiggle room now does it?
You need as much room for error as possible in the evening, as this is when you are most vulnerable to snacking. Intermittent Fasting gives you this.
Intermittent Fasting can be changed and customised to meet your needs though. Simply alter your eating schedule to give you more “wiggle room” for when you’re prone to snacking.
Prone to snacking mid-day? Have 70% of your calorie mid-day.
Prone to snacking later at night? Save most of your calories for then.
You can have your ice cream and still lose weight. You can eat chocolate in the evening and lose the beer belly. Indulging (moderately) in cake is fine – you can still narrow that waistline.
The key here, is that you are now in control of your snacking habits, instead of your emotional urges controlling you.
Truly breaking free from external marketing influences takes several years judging by my experience; I’m not going to sugarcoat it (excuse the pun). But it’s possible, and I believe gaining control through creating an eating plan (and sticking to it!) is the first step.
You can do it.