An abundance of prepared snacks is your best defense, against America’s toxic food environment.
“Rule #2 SURROUND Yourself with an Abundance of Snacks that You Eat Regularly.”
When it comes to making healthy food choices and eating proper portion sizes, hunger is undefeated against willpower. Never allow yourself to become really hungry!
Repeat after me, “Tomorrow I will get hungry.”
Let’s try that again, only a bit louder, “Tomorrow I will get hungry!”
Ok, one more time, but say it with your chest; “There is a 100% chance that at some point tomorrow I will become hungry!” Heck, I am hungry now (you don’t have to say that).
I think we all can agree that if we don’t eat, we will become hungry. So, here is the 2,500 calorie question.
“Since you know with 100% certainty that you are going to become hungry at some point: why not spend five to ten minutes each day preparing for that reality?”
Think about it for a second. If your friends told you that tomorrow they plan to take you out on the town for dinner and dancing; wouldn’t you take a few minutes to consider what you are going to wear? (If you are like my wife, you may even go shopping.) On the same token, if tomorrow, you needed to drive the kids to their soccer match; wouldn’t you pack some lawn chairs, a hat, sunblock, some comfortable shoes, a pair of sunglasses and some water? Of course you would. The same should apply to snacks.
Surrounding yourself with an abundance of snacks, can prevent your hunger-level from becoming so intense that you overeat an unhealthy treat on impulse. This step, is arguably the most important rule of The 5 Rules for Healthy Living.
“According to research presented at the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo, snacking, especially beverage consumption outside of a regular meal continues to increase among Americans, accounting for more than 25 percent of calorie intake each day.”
Not only are these findings not surprising to me; but they are completely understandable given our evolutionary history. Only recently, has man enjoyed reliable food sources. For the majority of our existence, food security was our primary challenge. Even during favorable times, there were no advance methods of food storage. In less favorable times, such as droughts or prolonged harsh winters; next year’s harvest could literally be destroyed overnight.
Our ancestors (and my one-year-old son Addison) would have never passed up an opportunity to eat. If they stumbled into a berry patch or walnut grove they didn’t say, “Great, I will come back later and enjoy these when I get hungry.” They treated it like a 95% Groupon offer and started eating right then and there because they didn’t know when their next meal was going to be.
Fast forward a millennium and our pre-historic survival instincts remain the same. However, our food environment has changed drastically. Instead of stumbling into the occasional snack out in the wild, we are surrounded, accosted and bombarded by high calorie processed treats on every corner.
If that isn’t enough, thanks to billions of dollars of marketing from Big Food, we must also endure a continuous stream of advertisements promoting these treats. It is a miracle that the average American is not 300 pounds! (At this rate however, we may soon get there)
The 5 Rules for Healthy Living adapts to this current situation by asking you to carry a fortress of snacks which will shield you from the barrage of treats thrown your way.
“Most of us don’t spend three dollars in the vending machine everyday buying potatoes chips and soda because we love potato chips and soda.
We spend three dollars in the vending machine everyday buying potatoes chips and soda because we get hungry and there is nothing else readily available to eat.”
I also encourage you to pack snacks that you enjoy without obsessing about whether they are good or bad. Getting into the habit of planning snacks versus habitually buying vending and convenience store treats, is far more important than forcing yourself to eat raw broccoli and spinach dip (which I happen to enjoy) if you don’t like it.
To be absolutely clear, the goal is to initially eliminate the distraction of hunger so that you are able to make better food choices with reasonable portion sizes. Hence, carry an abundance of small snacks. I normally carry at least eight snacks. If your coworkers and friends don’t comment that, “You eat all the time”, then you are likely not carrying enough snacks.
Some of you are probably thinking, “What happens if I carry snacks; eat them all and then buy impulse snacks. Doesn’t carrying all these snacks just increase the likelihood that I will eat too much?” If after eating breakfast, eight small snacks and lunch; you still want to buy vending machine treats; your desire to eat is most likely driven by something other than a biological need for food.
Personally, I used to suffer from mindless habitual eating. So for the first few months of following the rules, I carried a substantial amount of plain popcorn, carrots and celery. I munched all day until slowly my desire to eat every two seconds subsided.
There are a host of reasons that people habitually eat. Please consult a medical professional if such an issue persist.
Some of you may be thinking,”One minute he says carry any type of snacks (good or bad), but another minute he says that we should try avoiding unhealthy vending machine treats; what is the difference?“
Let me answer that question this way. When I was overweight, it was not because each morning I packed a small serving of potato chips as one of my snacks to satisfy an afternoon craving. I was overweight because each afternoon I ate an entire bag of potato chips because I was starving; only to later have another bag; because processed snacks are not only addictive, but they don’t provide enough sustained energy to stave off hunger for long.
If however, I developed the habit of surrounding myself with raisins, apples, bananas, a small bowl of tortilla chips, nuts, dried fruit, a small bowl of salad, yogurt, peanut butter, bread, popcorn, oranges, granola bars, fiber bars, cereal, olives, celery, cucumbers, humus, carrots, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, plums, mixed frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, a small bowl of pretzels, sliced chicken breast, a bit of dark chocolate, a small bowl of crackers and trail mix etc.; I would have likely not bought the bags of chips.
Preparing snacks also supports the transition to normal portioned meals. For most people, it may take time to wean their bodies off super-sized portions. It is easier to form the habit of preparing reasonably portioned meals and make better food choices when you are not starving.
Frankly, I advocate eating more than you do now, if doing so helps you make better food choices and eat modest portions. In other words, it is far more important that you develop the habit of planning what you are going to eat than it is to lose a few pounds.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and cannot even spell nutritionist or dietitian, which in my opinion makes me overly qualified to share common sense healthy eating tips. However this blog is for entertainment and informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for specific medical advice.