My Battle with Boredom and Snacking
I’m a cereal murderer, ain’t nobody box me in
I’d drop 100 Grand, gluttony is my favorite sin
Ladies call me Mr. Goodbar, King-sized to share
I’m dropping mad barz, making chedda and I don’t care
If I see you rollin’ up, I’m finna to take my shot
Of tequila, we gonna do it a lot
Mmmmm, margaritas. Margaritas and wings.
What was I saying?
Right, snacks. One of my biggest problems with losing weight has been and continues to be, snacking. I can walk away from the dinner table, absolutely full, and grab a handful of peanuts or M&Ms, grapes or chips, and eat them. It’s appalling! I am actually waddling away from the table and some sick, deluded part of my brain sees something out and says, “Mmmm. I haven’t eaten that yet” and down it goes. When I get bored, it’s so much worse, and with my ADD I get bored all the time, at any point. I could be deep into a book, decide to get a drink of water and end up making waffles that I’ll forget about because I decided to clean the floor. So I’ll reheat the waffles, but I’ll add some peanut butter because they’re a little stale. What started as a drink of water ended up with a 400 calorie snack and a swept floor because I reached the end of the Chapter. And the book I’m reading has a new chapter every four or five pages! I’d like to think I could solve my weight problem by not reading James Patterson, but alas, there is more to it than that.
Growing up, we didn’t have much. My family danced around the poverty line most of my life and my parents worked swing shifts so one of them was always home, but they were asleep part of the time we were home too. Often we had to take care of our own snacks after school or during the summer, so I learned not to be picky. I’d eat saltines with peanut butter or cheese. If there was no peanut butter or cheese, I’d use ketchup. No saltines or crackers, just cheese. Sometimes with peanut butter. And of course, there was always cereal. It was almost always “Honey O’s” or “Crisp Rice” in the big, non-descript, zip-locked bags so we could eat our fill and for cheap. And if there was no milk, Honey O’s tasted just as good in OJ (from concentrate). Years of this led to a lot of bad habits, and while I learned to eat whatever I was lucky enough to have, I could eat anything. And did. I equated boredom with snacks and food because I so often didn’t have another outlet.
Now, here I am as a vastly obese adult, with children, and I’m finding that many of those habits I am passing onto my kids. Not on purpose, but I’m noticing they’re picking them up and as I look around with this new perspective I noticed that we have set ourselves up to allow for our snacking behaviors. Some kind of food is always out, or readily available. I will walk past the kitchen, which is connected to the dining and living rooms, and I’ll just grab whatever’s open or out and eat it. Hell, the pantry has been open for months because we just don’t bother closing it anymore. Often times I’ll be chewing on something with absolutely no recollection of ever picking something up and deciding to eat it. My wife will say, “Christian. What are you eating?” and I don’t know how to answer her. I have to stop and think about what happened, and that’s a problem. Drive by snacking happens all the time, and it accounts for hundreds of my calories every day.
Several studies, including some found in this article from HuffPo, have pointed out how snacking can help people lose weight, but it points out that those people have already started to adopt healthy lifestyles and are snacking smartly. Nincompoops like myself don’t do that. And we don’t just grab a handful of nuts or chips or cereal, we grab handfuls. Whether all at once or spread out over fifteen minutes, we try to justify how much we’re eating by not eating it all at once. Also, the article points out that snack food often has higher fat, salt, and calorie counts, so we’re not doing ourselves any favors.
So, how do I keep myself occupied so I don’t grow bored and start snacking? What can I. . . Hold on.
(Five minutes later)
Okay, talking about all this food, I needed little something. Just a hard-boiled egg. And cheese. And some milk to wash it down. Snacks high in protein help you stay fuller longer, so I should be good. Right? Anyway, how do I keep THAT from happening? I have already started removing food from easy access in the kitchen, and keeping the healthy snacks out, like fruit and nuts (see The Purge). This is a good start, but like I said, I’ll eat those things for hours if allowed. So what else could I do? Well, obviously I need to occupy myself, but that’s easier said than done. It’s not like constructive time-consuming activities can be done at all times. Especially with children. However, I’ve had an idea, an eating epiphany if you will. If I am going to grab something to eat, I have to complete a challenge first. Something that will engage me and provide a distraction, at the same time giving me a justification to have a snack. I was raised Catholic, so it makes sense to me. Like saying the rosary because I punched my brother. I could write 250 words for my book; complete ten minutes of my Spanish lessons; play a game with my kids; call my parents; make sweet, sweet love to my wife, or exercise for ten minutes first.
So today, I start my new snacking regime. I’ve already gotten rid of the crap food out of my house, now let’s see how this goes, but I need a catchy name (especially if this works and I want to trademark my methods). Pantry Penance? Quaffing Qualifier? Consumption Compensation? Snack-fu? The Tao of Devouring? The Munching Method? I’ll think on it.
What about you? What methods do you use to keep your snacking under control that actually works?
Update: I’m down three pounds in three days, but I’m not getting excited. I’ve had bigger swings in my weight after a good poo. And vacation is looming!