Eating without noticing is one of the fastest ways to put on weight.
Snacks are so easy to forget. They are usually high calories and not very filling. In fact some (like a handful of sugary lollies or muesli bars) can even make you feel hungrier shortly afterwards. If we’re eating at our desk, it’s even easier not to register what we’re consuming. Our minds are focused on the spreadsheet, conference call or project, while we funnel foods into our mouths.
If you want a snack, try and get a plate, and make a proper small meal.
I can feel you resisting. “But then I’ll get fat if I eat all that.” “But I don’t want a proper meal’. If you don’t want a proper meal, perhaps you’re not hungry and you actually don’t need a snack either. In the event that you are hungry, maybe it would be better that you register that you’ve eaten something, something substantial, which might sustain you and prevent you from nibbling again in half an hour.
There are other hazards of snacking. The constant stimulation of our stomach means that it never has a chance to rest, or more importantly ‘clean up’. We have brilliant little helpers in our guts that maintain our bodies. If we have eaten a steak, it might take five hours for it to be digested in the stomach and small intestine. Once this is done, the small intestine sweeps itself in a such a cute manner that even tough-minded scientists have called it the ‘housekeeper’. If we eat before it has a chance to do this, it once again goes on standby to receive food. But constant snacking means there is no time for ‘cleaning’ which helps keep our gut healthy.
The drip feed of food also keeps insulin churning up and down. Our bodies don’t have an opportunity to find their point of homeostasis where blood sugar and hormones are regulated, balanced and consistent and don’t have to deal with a constant influx of food. This constant demand for insulin, to deal with the food, can artificially inflate our appetite. So constant nibbling and snacking not only adds to our waistline because we’re not paying attention to it, but also because it makes us want to eat more.
If that isn’t bad enough, if we eat at our desks, we associate being at our desk with eating, which triggers us to want to eat, whether we’re hungry or not. All in all, we’re not helping ourselves.
Step away from the desk. Can you get in the habit of eating somewhere else?