Situational Snacking

Do you have a snack monster following you around? And no, I’m not talking about your teenage children! Are you one of the many, many people who lives for snacks and loves snacks of all kinds? I know I was. And when I’m talking about snacking I’m not just talking about those 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. snack times, but any time when you are eating between your main mealtimes.

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that a lot of snacking is related to certain situations. Think about the following scenarios:

• Do you always have crackers or chips when you sit down to watch TV?

• Do you tend to pick up a candy bar or goodie every time you stop for gas?

• Are you a taste tester when you (or your spouse) is cooking?

• If you drink alcohol, are you accustomed to drinking a glass of wine before certain meals?

• Does a football game just not seem complete without cheese nachos, chocolate candy, and salsa?

• Does the vending machine at work call your name at a certain time every single day?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you – relax – you are not alone! I had many situations during my obese years that I felt required a little “snack or two or three.” And if I had stopped to add up how many additional calories I was consuming by downing those little bites of things here and there I probably would have been surprised. I was easily adding more than 500 calories a day to my food intake – easily. No wonder I just kept gaining and gaining. Between the snacks and the cokes I was a mess.

I realized as I was on my weight loss journey that much of my situational snacking was a habit. And as such I needed to break myself of snacking unnecessarily. Unnecessary snacking is different from planned snacks! Unnecessary snacking almost always involves a situation that you have associated with a certain food. It’s similar to the thought that you “have” to eat certain foods at certain holidays. Sometimes those stereotypes are meant to be broken – as was the case for me. I needed to break myself of those situations where food was involved unnecessarily – like eating plates of chips and cheese after dinner for no good reason. For me, I had to substitute other things for food – like scrapbooking or knitting or just talking on the phone. I also had to plan for those times as I knew I had the tendency to fall easily back into old habits.

Have you identified situational snacking on your journey? What was your solution to reigning in the unnecessary snack times?  Diane

41 thoughts on “Situational Snacking

  1. Yum Yucky says:

    Pre-dinner snacking is my downfall. I eat healthy all day at work. It’s really easy. Then I get home and turn into a beast before dinner. I sometimes un-do the entire day’s effort of healthy eating.

    This is a problem I need to fix.
    .-= Yum Yucky´s last blog ..Stupid Diet Tip #845 =-.

  2. Laura Jane says:

    This is a big problem for me. I grew up snacking all the time. My hardest times are the afternoon at work. Pretty much every time I walk through the kitchen, I have a habit of grabbing just a little cracker or two (or worse, a piece a of candy) and it all really adds up. The first thing I do when I walk in the door of my house is head to the kitchen for a little snack. I’m working on breaking myself of those habits.
    .-= Laura Jane´s last blog ..Weigh-in Results! =-.

  3. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    I’m a snacker! Sometimes it’s just boredom, and that had to be eliminated. I grab my book or hop on the treadmill or do anything else that’s not near the kitchen.

    For non-boredom snacks, I eat fruits, raw veggies, and yogurt. (Plus, I keep Hershey’s Kisses in the freezer for those times when only chocolate will do.) For me, it’s a matter of planning for it, and then taking a second to think about it if I’m having an unplanned snack.
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..Happy Healthy Hearts =-.

  4. Mia says:

    I was a snacker too!

    As I think back on it, I thought I deserved them. For service done so to speak. Filling up the gas tank. Running to the store. Walking the kids around our little block. And because of that mentality, I believed those calories didn’t count.

    I realized that I wasn’t in touch with my hunger signal, so the only way to break myself of the habit was to start eating by the clock. Today, snacks are at 10, 3, and midnight (don’t ask about that one!). I plan those snacks and include the calories in my total for the day. Works for me!


  5. WaistingTime says:

    This is so me! I would say that snacking contributed to 95% of my weight gain, if not all of it. I rarely overate at meals. But I would snack all day and often nibbled enough in the afternoon not to be hungry for dinner. Or gave myself a stomach ache! It was situational, habit and boredom. The best help for me has been the blog world. When I write on my blog or visit others, I am never eating. Or thinking about eating! My other fix lately has been to drink a lot of flavored hot tea. I now plan a couple of snack, timed throughout the day, and they are all on plan foods.
    .-= WaistingTime´s last blog ..Trash Talk =-.

  6. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, YES! I was such a situational eater & even after I lost the weight. I still looked forward to certain times when I was gonna let loose! Now that I eat mini meals, I always know something is on the way! 🙂 Does not mean that certain situations still don’t bring that up BUT I have learned to manage them.

    On comment luv, I have no idea why it will not change the post! Absolute craziness. I think I will email them.
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Tuesday at the Gym & My Cardio Workout =-.

  7. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Cooking dinner can be a dangerous time for me. I always have a bag of almonds or nuts in the kitchen, and it’s easy to grab too many. I portion out one serving into a little ramekin and stick to that. I also try to limit my tasting to what’s “absolutely necessary.”
    .-= Andrea@WellnessNotes´s last blog ..Time to Assess =-.

  8. Sunny says:

    Of course all of us who are or were overweight have snacked too much. Way too much. Now, I try to just stop knee-jerk reacting to stress or boredom and really get in the moment, realize what I’m really needing emotionally, and try to find another thing to do to sooth myself, as I reach for a stick of sugarless gum to give me something to chew. 😉
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..Obsession =-.

  9. karen@fitnessjourney says:

    It’s true, some situations just lend themselves to snacking.Popcorn and movies comes to mind. I like your suggestion to keep your hands busy. While watching tv, a big one for many of us, you could sew back loose buttons, knit or clip coupons. I like the idea of doing something productive instead of mindlessly snacking.
    .-= karen@fitnessjourney´s last blog ..Do You Look Your Age? =-.

  10. 'Drea says:

    I am the queen of snacking but I try to make much better choices now. For instance, I haven’t touched a candy bar in years but I’ll definitely take some Weight Watchers or Curves popcorn along for the ride.
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..The ‘Drea Slayer =-.

  11. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    My biggest problem is sugar. I used to really inhale something sweet about ten or eleven o’clock. I schedule blog reading time now, or something that keeps me out of the kitchen and occupied. Like storytime at the library for Beansprout.
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..hang on =-.

  12. Susan says:

    I have two really bad times of day where I feel like I need to snack. One is when I walk in the door after work starving. I start munching on things like nuts and raisins to keep me going till dinner. Lately I’ve been trying to have a salad or some veggies instead of whatever box of cereal my hand gets into first 😛 My other bad snacking time is right before I go to bed. For some reason, I hate going to bed with even the slightest tinge of hunger. Now I drink a glass of water before I hit the hay and it seems to help (except I wake up having to pee!! 😛 )
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Goals For February =-.

  13. Marcelle says:

    Hello Diane…

    Not anymore, funny how i never noticed the changes till you pointed this out…In the past I would have said YES to many of the above, but not anymore, thats such good news for me – am making progress….
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..Tuesday – 35 Points =-.

  14. Babbalou says:

    Since I haven’t been working, the challenging time for me is around 4 pm. My solution has been to go to the mall and walk some laps (30-60 minutes worth) and then treat myself to a cup of coffee at the bookstore while I look at the books or magazines. It gets me out of the house, lifts my spirits and helps me keep moving, particularly during the harsh winters here in the north. When the coffee is done (I’m a slow coffee drinker!) I head home and start making dinner. If I want a sweet after dinner, I try to stick with a cup of herbal tea and a couple of dried apricots with a whole raw almond on top – tastes a bit like an oatmeal cookie!

  15. MySensei says:

    Snacking always gets me! I have tried to quit cold turkey and that lasts for a while, but I realized I need to still fight my urges while feeding some of them as well. I replaced my chips and salsa and candy snacks with fruit. I have been on a grapefruit kick – keeping cut up grapefruit in the fridge at all times. Its yummy and full of fiber so it keeps me feeling full for much longer and that means less snacking as the night progresses!

  16. says:

    Hey Diane! Great post! It really hits home with me! Snacking is dangerous to losing weight and maintaining weight. I know in the past, I would snack watching TV or when I was very emotional. My solution was to stop buying things to keep at the house that would tempt me. I drink a lot more water which keeps my cravings down. I’ve have trained my mind to eat right and not eat junk food all the time. I do allow myself to eat stuff I enjoy every once in awhile or in samll portions. Now, I stick to especially during the work week a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack. Even if we fall, we just have to get right back up! Thanks for sharing!!

    Jen 🙂
    .-=´s last blog ..Tip #41: Glute Lift =-.

  17. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    You describe me perfectly! The most trouble I have is after dinner and before I go to bed. There’s about four or five hours in there (yeah, I need to go to bed earlier) so I end up getting hungry and snacking all night.

    Oh, and I have a crazy movie snacking habit. I can’t go to the movies without getting popcorn. Dangerous–that stuff is so unhealthy, even if I don’t get butter.

  18. Linda says:

    You mean situational snacking like this Sunday’s Super Bowl where food is expected!?! Funny how that is. Sometimes I wonder if the media is responsible for that snacking and watching football thing. I’ve got some simple, healthy and low calorie food lined up for that.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..6 more weeks, or so =-.

  19. Brenda says:

    For me, everytime I sat down to go online I would have a snack of chips or popcorn to ‘snack on’. Now I always grab a fresh bottle of water. Luckily, we never developed the habit of snacking while watching tv…not even during football or NASCAR.
    We will have dinner during half time on Sunday, but it’s all healthier choices of mini homeade pizza’s, fruits, and baked mozzerella sticks. Not a day to over eat on junk 🙂
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..eating with my eyes =-.

  20. shannon says:

    What a great post! Very timely for me. Just because it’s the superbowl doesn’t mean I need to stuff myself with the traditional junk! Just because I’m going to happy hour tonight doesn’t mean I need to take advantage of the 1/2 pound burgers. I, not the situation, decide what I put into my body.

  21. Erin says:

    Oh my entire day outside of meals was a snacking extravaganza…and now, I have spanned into 6 smaller meals a day, and really don’t feel the need to snack anymore. The bedtime snack is always the hardest to maneuver!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Free the Wookiees! =-.

  22. Hadley says:

    I don’t know if I was ever that much of a situational snacker. I suppose on trips I always want to try as many new foods as possible, or ordering (and eating!) lots of food with my family.

    Good post!
    .-= Hadley´s last blog ..Worth It =-.

  23. Leah says:

    The other night we watched a movie and I just had a cup of coffee instead of snacking during the movie. I thought to myself, “Amazing. You can actually watch a movie without eating popcorn, Leah.” 🙂

    So far sipping on something warm has helped me to cut out the snacking. Late at night I have a habit of wanting something, so I’ve been having a piece of fruit. It helps so far.
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Addicted to Sweating =-.

  24. Cari (aka Gastric Bypass Barbie) says:

    Oh gosh…I blogged about my situational snacking (e.g. BINGE) on retreat this weekend. I haven’t been on kitchen crew for three years (since my pre-surgery days) and I KNEW going in that it would be a challenge. I guess three days was just too long for me and I really went off the deep-end. Fortunately, I didn’t let it derail me and I’ve been back on track since Monday. Mastery is not about perfection; it’s about recovery! So, yes, RETREAT = FRESH BAKED GOODS for me. Not safe, so I can’t do that anymore. I’m like an alcoholic — I don’t need to be tending bar for the Super Bowl party 😉
    .-= Cari (aka Gastric Bypass Barbie)´s last blog ..Adam & Eve, Retreats & Brownies =-.

  25. Lara (Thinspired) says:

    Oh geez. I used to be the Queen of snacking, but since I lost weight, I have mostly cut it out. The problem with snacking is not the issue of having a snack…it’s stopping! Occasionally now I will have a snack/dessert after dinner, but I try to measure it and only have a little. Or, if I am working out, I will have a snack before or after (if it’s not around a meal time), but generally I try to stick to the 3-meals model 🙂
    .-= Lara (Thinspired)´s last blog ..Fresh Start February =-.

  26. Alissa says:

    I find myself wanting to snack at work around 2:00 or so. Not really because I’m hungry but because I’m stressed out and tired. I’ve found that drinking a diet soda is enough to get me through.
    .-= Alissa´s last blog ..Weigh In Day =-.

  27. Lola says:

    Ummm, as usual you are totally correct. I always tend to snack when I’m working on a tough problem at work. Like, if I’m trying to figure something out technically, its almost like I need to snack on somethign to just help me focus. I know that’s a load of crap…but its when I snack. :o)

    I am consciously aware that I do that now, so I try to NOT do that, or at least snack on something healthier than just junk food. Sometimes plain ice will do the trick (of course, other times M&Ms fit better) LOL.
    .-= Lola´s last blog ..Pain / Pleasure =-.

  28. Rebecca says:

    I like to eat all throughout the day…sometimes I make better decisions than others about what I choose to snack on though. It’s been a constant battle 🙁

Leave a Reply