If like me, you are currently in lockdown, you might have memories from last lockdown of the kilos that crept onto your hips, your waist, your thighs – affectionately known as the covid creep.

Rest assured, it is not inevitable, you can experience lockdown without adding kilos, all it takes is a little knowledge and a few strategies to help when the afternoon snack attack calls.

During lockdown, you are spending more time at home, boredom might strike more frequently, moods may be lower, perhaps you’re less active and you are definitely not out and about doing things.  You may not think so, but chances are you are eating a lot more than you usually would.

Thinking back over your last few snacks – how often did you eat when you were not truly hungry?  Was it something other than hunger that tempted you?

When we get bored or feel a bit down we often treat ourselves with food, usually something quick and easy to prepare, so it’s often processed with high sugar, salt and/or fat.  These are low in nutritional value and often are excess to our energy requirements and are therefore stored as fat.

Do you find yourself feeling hungry mid-afternoon or later at night?  There are different types of hunger, emotional hunger is when you have an unmet emotional need that presents as a desire to eat food.  Now while eating may give immediate relief, it is usually short term and often results in over-indulging – think of how often a biscuit turns into half a packet.   Unfortunately, continually snacking especially on high sugar, high fat processed foods can have huge impacts on our health and increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Other reasons for eating can be social, e.g., eating chips while watching a movie or seeing someone eat a favourite snack, making you crave it too.  It’s not accidental that we can’t stop at one when eating processed snack foods such as salty chips, a lot of research has gone into the components that make us eat more.  So rather than sitting down for a cuppa and cake, suggest a game, exercise or a doing a puzzle.

So here are a few strategies to help you avoid the snacks when the desire to eat arises :

  1. Ask yourself am I really hungry?  Unless it is a meal time, then you probably aren’t.
  2. Drink a glass of water – often thirst masquerades as hunger.
  3. Prepare a list of non-food-based activities that you can do when hunger strikes to distract you. This could be exercise, going for a short walk, doing a crossword, messaging a friend, doing lunges, breathing exercises – the list is only limited by your imagination.  When hunger strikes pick an activity from the list and do that rather than raiding the pantry.
  4. Take time to consider why you want to lose weight or eat healthier.   Understanding your goals and reminding yourself of them when you feel hungry will give you an incentive to avoid over-eating and work towards your goals. Remember, for change to occur you need to do things differently, you won’t lose weight by continuing the eating habits that led to the weight gain.
  5. Choose a reward – after a week of not snacking reward yourself – but make sure it isn’t food-based!

I share these strategies in more detail as part of my Metabolic Balance Wellness and Weight loss program.  Lockdown is a perfect time to start the program!  Find out more here.