How Do I Stop Compulsive Snacking? Best Doable Hacks & Tips

Heather Campbell
 min read

How do I stop compulsive snacking? Compulsive snacking can be controlled.

How do I stop compulsive snacking? Best doable hacks & tipsDuring the day, you control everything you eat. Your breakfast meal is often healthy, complete, and balanced.

As a whole, snacking is never far from our mind and becomes compulsive when done unconsciously. Focus on starchy foods, savor meals, enjoy food and eat at regular, established intervals. Include good fats in all meals, limit stress, drink water and herbal teas, and seek professional help if needed.

In the evening, a packet of potato chips or cookies is enough to wipe out your healthy eating efforts. That’s when the compulsive snacking begins.

Read on to discover all our tips to end this bad habit.

How do I stop compulsive snacking? Introduction

The meal is not so far away, but that little thought creeps ever so gently (or abruptly) into your brain, sending you a message, “I could eat something…”

If this is the case, you are not unlike many other people who snack between meals occasionally or regularly!

This something is, in most cases, a sweet, fatty, high-calorie food that is likely to tip the scales in the wrong direction.

But is this nibbling brought on by hunger or compulsion, by need or desire?

How to avoid snacking, and how to reduce this real addiction?

Snacking: What is it?

Snacking is a bad reflex that leads to eating without hunger. There are many reasons for snacking: tiredness, stress, greed, need for comfort, boredom, anxiety, or simply out of habit.

But if snacking is done compulsively or even moderately, the risk is to cause an imbalance, not only on the weighing scale but also in the composition of the main meals.

When hunger is reduced at the table, the desire to eat certain types of food is also reduced. Generally, we’ll choose fatty and sweet foods over others.

Thus, snacking at any time of the day is not without impact on health and can lead to weight problems.

Actual hunger versus pleasure snacking

Don’t confuse snacking for pleasure with actual hunger.

Besides snacking, any food can do the trick (an open box of cookies, popcorn, donuts, bits of cheese while cooking, etc.).

But it is also possible to feel actual hunger, which causes the need to look for food immediately because our body sends signals that our fuel is running low.

In fact, the onset of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in people who have no particular health concerns is often due to a poor distribution of food over the day and not to poor eating habits.

The causes can vary, such as eating breakfast very early in the morning without taking slow sugars.

Because we must not forget that taking fast sugars triggers the immediate production of insulin and, therefore, a very fast reactionary hypoglycemia.

What is compulsive snacking?

Compulsive snacking is when we repeatedly and unconsciously eat food between meals without apparent hunger.

More often than not, we turn to foods rich in sugar and fat, which prevents us from having a healthy and balanced diet, and promotes weight gain and obesity (fructose increases body fat for example).

Don’t panic: a simple nibble, in case of stress, fatigue, or boredom, is harmless.

It becomes pathological as soon as the snacked food is absorbed over a short period, with a large quantity of food, without any real feeling of hunger, and sometimes beyond the satiety signal.

And that’s when we start asking how do I stop compulsive snacking.

It is also essential to differentiate between compulsive snacking and compulsive eating.

Compulsive eating or craving is a compulsion to eat a “pleasure” food to obtain immediate comfort.

Tips to stop compulsive snacking

Focus on starchy foods

Contrary to popular belief, bread, pasta, rice, cereals, etc., do not make you fat!

Rich in carbohydrates slowly assimilated by the body, they satiate durably by regulating blood sugar levels.

Eat them at every meal, in duo with vegetables to accompany meat and/or fish, favoring wholemeal and al dente cooking (for a lower glycemic index, thus better satiety), and measure the quantities.

Take the time to chew and savor your meal

It takes at least 15 minutes for the stomach to receive the satiety message from the brain. It is thus necessary to chew well and especially to chew slowly.

Learn to enjoy yourself

Why force yourself to eat an apple for lunch if apple pie is your thing?

Take a small piece and enjoy it rather than munching on your apple and thinking only about the cake, and balance out the rest of the meal and the day.

Indulge yourself from time to time, so you don’t overindulge!

Don’t wait until you’re hungry to eat

In fact, eating at a fixed time allows you to establish a 4-hour cycle between meals, and the body does not synthesize as much insulin when satiation occurs at fixed intervals.

Hence the importance of snacks (not nibbling!), possibly in the middle of the morning if breakfast is very early, but especially in the afternoon to avoid being torn by hunger at dinner time.

Appreciate fats

Whether added (butter, oil, cream, etc.) or contained naturally in certain foods (oilseeds, meat, fatty fish, dairy products, etc.), they provide the body with vitamins and essential fatty acids essential for physical and nervous health balance.

Don’t overuse them but don’t delete them either.

Prioritize a good breakfast in the morning

That is to say, it should provide at least 25% of the day’s energy and be made up of products that will help avoid the hunger pangs that occur around 10 or 11 in the morning.

For example, with wholemeal bread, a source of lean protein (ham, egg, surimi, plain dairy) and fruit.

Limit yourself to one weigh-in per week

In the morning after urinating, the same day is the right frequency to check that your weight remains stable.

To avoid temptation, store your scale in a closet and take it out only on weigh-in day. To know if you have gained weight, rely more on your clothes.

Avoid skipping meals

Skipping meals does not help you lose weight! Instead, your body needs an energy intake that is evenly distributed throughout the day.

After deprivation, it reacts not only by sending hunger signals to the brain but also by storing more food for the next meal.

Don’t fast after a lapse, but resume a regular eating pattern immediately and boost your physical activity.

Opt for individual portions

Concerning the pleasure foods that you demonize and that you tend to crave, do not eliminate them at the risk of depriving the rest of the family.

Try to use single servings as an easier way to limit yourself to a reasonable amount and avoid finishing a whole package.

Limit stress

Limit stress because it leads to an increase in cortisol, a hormone that boosts appetite, and then bet on anti-stress foods:

  • Foods that contain magnesium (fruit and dried vegetables)
  • Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids (rapeseed oil, fatty fish, nuts, etc.)
  • Foods that contain vitamin B6 promote the assimilation of magnesium (whole grains, meats, poultry, etc.).

Stop restrictive diets

If you are really overweight, you should try to reduce your overall diet but not cut out any food categories. You must avoid frustration.

Drink water

It cannot be repeated often enough, but the body is made up of about 55% water. In addition to its elimination functions, water allows better assimilation of the nutrients present in food.

Drinking small sips of water with pure lemon juice throughout the day has a lasting satiety effect.

Green tea can also be consumed for its fat burning and diuretic effects.

Related post: Addicted to cola: What to do & how to quit my soda addiction?

Do something else when the temptation becomes too strong

Calling a friend, singing, writing, dancing, and playing sports are examples of activities that can give as much pleasure as a chocolate croissant and divert attention from snacking.

Anticipate your evening urges

If you need to eat something in the evening, reserve your starch (a piece of bread, for example) and/or your dinner dessert (dairy, fruit, rice, or semolina with milk) and eat them calmly, taking your time, accompanied by a scented infusion like a cup of tea.

Tip: For even more tips on curbing your snacking habit, be sure to also read our other post How to stop snacking so much: Best automatisms to acquire

Avoiding snacking with herbal medicine

The plants with an appetite suppressant effect are rich in fibers capable of swelling, such as mucilage. These are only effective if they are associated with a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and an overall healthy lifestyle.

Hunger is moderated thanks to these appetite suppressants. Their action is directly linked to the amount of dietary fiber provided by the food, especially to the amount of water absorbed.

That’s because water allows these fibers to swell in the stomach and give the feeling of satiety.

These vegetable appetite suppressants should be taken 15 to 20 minutes before a meal or a tempting snack with a large glass of water.

Doubling the dose does not increase the effectiveness. Instead, it exposes you to risks of digestive disorders (diarrhea, gastric pain, interaction with the efficacy of other drugs). Ask your pharmacist for advice.

Some plant tricks to hack your hunger

Before you start: Always seek advice from your doctor and pharmacist before starting to use specific plant-based hunger hacks, such as the following:

  • Agar-Agar is a 100% vegetable gelling agent presented in the form of powder or capsules. It is composed of soluble fibers that swell in the stomach to trap different types of sugars and fats once consumed. However, we cannot digest these, so they are eliminated again with our stools.
  • The carob gum is rich in mucilage and thus also regulates the appetite when it is absorbed with water before a meal.
  • Sterculia gum, apple pectin, and chicory pectin are also soluble fibers that swell up in the stomach and reduce food intake during the next meal.
  • Konjac, rich in galactomannans, can absorb up to 100 times its volume of water, becoming a viscous gel trapping fats and sugars. It suppresses both weight loss and appetite. Beware: It has no effect on cravings for sugar, fat, salt, or food urges!
  • Guar gum comes from a seed and is in the form of a powder rich in galactomannans. This powder swells and forms a gel that suppresses appetite after contact with water. Moreover, Guar gum contributes to the production of two hunger-suppressing hormones. One of these hormones slows down digestion, causing the feeling of satiety to last longer. But above all, Guar gum slows down the caloric extraction of other foods. It thus makes it possible to avoid nibbling and snacking during the day. By supporting the balance of intestinal transit, it is ideal for the problems of distensions.
  • The Fucus vesiculosus is an alga whose thallus is rich in mucilage which, by way of rehydrating, increases the volume of the stomach. It is rich in trace elements and vitamins of the B and C groups, which allows it to cover the body’s needs. Beware: This seaweed should not be used in case of thyroid disorders or allergy to iodine.

Some essential oils can also have a positive impact on snacking.

Homeopathy against snacking

It is advisable to consult your homeopathic doctor before any treatment to precisely establish each individual’s needs and adapt the homeopathic strains and dosages for homeopathic treatment.

Other solutions against compulsive snacking

Hypnosis can be particularly interesting to help fight against compulsive snacking or food compulsions. It will act directly on the uncontrollable urge to snack and break the vicious circle of an ultimately “unconscious” act.

The Emotional Freedom Technique and cognitive-behavioral therapies are also effective in helping to treat unbearable snacking cravings.

Don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if your compulsive snacking is the product of high stress, anxiety, depression, other psychological difficulties.

A reduction and good management of stress, in general, is beneficial in answering the question ‘How do I stop compulsive snacking?’

Find the activity you like that makes you feel good, whether yoga, meditation, sport, art therapy, reading, or sophrology.

How do I stop compulsive snacking? Conclusion

So let’s stop compulsive snacking and quickly move toward a balanced diet with alternative snacks!

Nevertheless, some happy nibblers like to eat everything in small quantities (generally the case for children, sometimes the elderly).

It is still important to respect the overall nutritional balance (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, starchy foods) throughout the day!

If you feel like you’re snacking a lot or the scales are tipping the wrong way, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor or pharmacist.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More