Beat The Munchies! Strategies To Avoid Tempting Foods

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 2:28pm

By Megan Porter, RD/LD

Do you think your willpower is enough to overcome your appetite for tempting or forbidden foods? National diet researchers who study the connections between why people do and don’t eat have claimed that your willpower doesn't stand a chance against the current food-laden environment in which food companies compete fiercely for your dollars. Every year more than $30 billion is spent on marketing and advertising campaigns to convince you to eat more of their products. How can you win in this overly tempting environment?

Keep tempting foods out of reach

One way to overcome tempting foods is to keep them out of your immediate environment. When tempting foods are in your cupboards, desk drawer, and elsewhere, you are in a constant battle with yourself. Instead of constantly struggling with temptation, create supportive food environment. Do this by limiting the foods you buy that are high in fat and carbohydrates and increasing the amount of healthier foods you have around.

Learn your emotional eating triggers

Everyone has individual emotional factors that trigger their desire to eat. Try to identify your weak spots. Ask yourself: “What environmental cues trigger my desire for food?” Keeping a food diary can help you gain insight into your triggers. For 14 days or more, record what you eat, how much you eat, when, where, and the reasons why. Look for patterns. (Learn more about Emotional Eating.)

Create a plan for dealing with temptation

After learning what situations, foods, and routines tempt you, formulate a plan for dealing with them. If your home is filled with temptation, discard the foods that tempt you. Sometimes this is the hardest part. Creatively storing food can be helpful too. When wrapped properly, many foods can be frozen or tucked into a cupboard to be enjoyed later. An easy trick is to stow the food away in individual servings, this way you can take out a small amount of the food when you really crave it. This strategy helps some people really limit their intake of carbohydrates, fats and calories.

6 tempting munchies scenarios and how to overcome them

Here are a few common scenarios and examples of how to alter your behavior:

1.   Overcoming the munchies whilst preparing the dinner

You come home at 6 p.m. and you’re really hungry. You immediately grab a bag of chips to eat while you’re making dinner.

  • Modify your environment by not having the chips available. Think ahead. The night before, prepare cut-up veggies to munch on while you cook.

2.   Hungry on the way home - avoid the temptation of fast food

You’re leaving work or out running errands and you’re starving, so you stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home.

  • Before you leave, pack a 100-calorie snack that travels well with about 15-30 grams of carbohydrates.

3.   Avoiding eating all the ice cream

Once you start eating ice cream, you can't stop.

  • Buy the smallest container available. When you want to have some, measure out a ½-cup portion. Better yet, don’t buy ice cream. When you’re really craving it, plan on an ice cream outing as a special treat, and then bike or walk to go get it.

4.   Avoiding overeating in restaurants

  • Tell the restaurant to put half your meal in a doggie bag before they serve your food. You can also split the meal with a friend.

5.   Candy temptation at work

Co-workers leave lots of candy on their desks—and you simply can’t resist.

  • Take an alternate route and avoid their desks. You can also try giving them a covered, non-see-through dish and asking them to put their candy inside it. Out of sight, out of mind.

6.   Avoiding the munchies whilst watching TV

  • Keep foods that you normally eat while watching TV out of the house. Make a rule that there is no food in the TV room. Snack on veggies with a low-fat dip. Turn off the TV and go for a walk!

Develop good shopping habits - buy healthy, portable snacks

When you’re grocery shopping don’t forget to pick up bags of baby carrots, string cheese, nuts, fresh fruit, single serving packs of applesauce, light yogurt, and whole-grain crackers. Having healthy portable snacks around will help you avoid less healthy vending machines, convenience stores and fast-food options that are especially tempting when you’re hungry.