Being near the pantry is one of the best and worst things about working from home. On the one hand, endless chips are great. On the other hand, endless chips have consequences. But with advice from hypnotist Lori Hammond, who specializes in weight loss, we can all learn to curb our constant snacking no matter how many chips we have hidden away.
“Your unconscious mind loves to create automatic behaviors,” Hammond explains. “Think of a baby going from crawling to walking: First, they struggle to pull themself up. Eventually, they take that first step, then fall on their diapered butt. They get up and try again — over and over and over. Before long, their body memorizes the movement, and it becomes automatic. They look where they want to go, and their muscles fire in the right order to walk them across the room. The same thing happens with mindless snacking: We decide to eat when we’re bored, overwhelmed by our to-do list or annoyed with our boss. It gives us a little ‘ping’ of feel-good chemicals and teaches the unconscious mind, ‘When I’m bored, overwhelmed or annoyed, I go to the fridge.’ This quickly becomes an automatic, unconscious behavior.”
In fact, relying on food for stimulation throughout the day can have a negative snowball effect. “Every time you eat in response to boredom and whatnot, you reward the negative feeling,” Hammond says. “You train yourself to feel bored, overwhelmed or annoyed more often by rewarding the emotion.”
In order to break this pattern, Hammond essentially recommends replacing it with another pattern. Here are her steps:
- “When you notice yourself wanting a snack, immediately step away from your work area.”
- “Stand up straight, as if a string is pulling you up from the top of your head and allowing the rest of your body to relax, especially your shoulders.”
- “Take a sharp double-inhale, and release it with a long sigh.”
- “Tell yourself, ‘I can handle this!’ The words you say to yourself are the most powerful words in the world.”
The main concept here is that taking a few deep breaths is a great way to reduce stress and feel generally more content, which may provide feel-good chemicals without you needing to open a new bag of chips. The process also simply disrupts your normal pattern of standing up from your desk only to get food, which again may be enough to make you think twice about doing so. Thus, Hammond recommends repeating this process whenever you find yourself hankering for an extra snack. “This entire process takes less than 30 seconds, and you’ll be surprised by how well it works,” she says.
One other tactic that might be helpful if you still find yourself succumbing to the pull of snacks is simply making sure you eat well and enough during designated meal times. Putting plenty of nutritious food in your body during breakfast, lunch and dinner will keep it satisfied throughout the day, negating the need for snacks.
But if your belly is still rumbling every half hour, just make sure to choose healthy snacks, mmkayy?