No Snack Challenge
What I have learned so far.
We are around halfway through the No-Snack challenge and I can safely say it is probably the toughest nutrition challenge I’ve participated in.
Why so Challenging?
When I set it up I had already to some extent been avoiding snacking so I actually believed that it wasn’t going to provide much difficulty for me to adhere to. However here is what I have discovered:
1. Screens rule my life
Checking my phone over breakfast, working on my computer over lunch and eating dinner sat on the sofa are three habits that I have. Changing these has been by far the main obstacle. My mentality has always been to cram as much into my day as possible. When I initially stopped I felt I was wasting time I could use to get stuff done. The reality was that all I was doing on my phone was checking messages and then social media and news apps.
Stop checking phone at breakfast
Apart from late cancellations no-one is going to expect a reply at 5:30am and the rest of the time is just mindless screen scrolling. My change for this was to use this time to mentally plan my day out. Taking a break from a screen first thing in the morning allows me some downtime to clear my head and be productive later that day.
Stop working through lunch
This was another effort being busy rather than productive. All I was doing was taking longer to have lunch and also longer to get the work done. Instead I either take the time and chat to whoever is in the box or alternatively use it as a chance to study. The fact I use a standing desk also meant that if I worked through lunch I rarely sat down in the whole day. Taking time to chat to someone away from my desk removes my tendency to appear rude. In fact, I now try whenever possible to break from my computer when someone chats to me. This was a bad habit and one I need to correct to be a better person.
Reading textbooks over lunch is really productive for me as it helps me relax and break the day. Plus often provides me with content that I am able to use during programming and content writing.
Dinner on the sofa
This is my hardest habit to break and to be honest it’s not one I’ve achieved regularly. My best solution is to eat earlier, whenever I have the chance to eat with Phoenix (my son) I will take it. This means changing my dinner time from 8pm to 5pm. This presents other challenges however which we will discuss later. The days where I get back late from work is the more difficult habit to break. Finishing at 7 or 8pm means a limited opportunity to watch TV and ‘relax’. Writing this out makes me realise what a poor excuse this is. We should be able to take a 30-minute window to sit and chat with our significant other without distraction. This will surely be better for not only eating habits but also our communication within the relationship. I will take this thought through the remainder of the challenge and try and take time together.
If I were living alone I would actually find it easier as I love a good book, fiction, or non-fiction.
2. Sofa snacking is addictive!
The difficulty with eating earlier is that you just want to snack on the sofa. In fact all my fails are a result of either screens or sofas!!
The great part of all these challenges is what you learn. For me the number one solution has been using tools from earlier challenges
Tracking and Planning are key.
I said it before we started but did not live by my own rules. The reality was I was not planning my meals or tracking my macros. This meant I was in serious calorie and protein deficit. This was causing me to back load my food intake. Eating all my calories around dinner time to make up for the lack of food earlier in the day.
Do not Get Hungry!
I was letting myself get hungry with my poor planning. The solution was to think about how many calories I need each day and ensure I get approximately a third for each meal. For myself I require 3000-3600 Calories on any given day as a minimum. This means 1000-1200 calories a meal, or 1500-1800 for a two-meal day. (I take a 2-meal day if I know there is no chance of making good choices at a certain mealtime.) Having 1000+ calories for breakfast is no mean feat, but with the addition of some oil and nuts I bumped myself up. I find that calories at dinner time are easy so planning needs to take place for the first 1 or 2 meals to hit my numbers.
Do not give up because you feel ‘weak’ – Be like a lion!!
I have noticed when logging my scores that some members have given up. A lot of the excuses for this is that they feel light-headed, moody or weak when they do not eat at certain times. Unless you have a medically diagnosed condition such as diabetes this is almost certainly a psychological and not physiological reaction. Often these symptoms disappear within 1-2 weeks of breaking the habit. I have actually found that fasting for 24-48 hours can help to teach you how much of this is psychological. I found that once I had experimented with a couple of long fasts I could train with no ill effects long into a fast. Often my best performances came fasted as I felt lighter and more aware. I imagined I was a Lion, there senses get pretty sharp when they have gone days without a meal and are on the hunt!
Hydrate instead of feed
Remember we are capable of surviving for more than 3 weeks without food. However, it is important to take on water, in fact more water than normal as if you are eating little and often you will be taking on board fluid from your food. This stops when you are not snacking so ensure you take on board water. If you feel ‘weak’ before workouts have yourself a zero carbs electrolyte drink. This will ensure you are fully ready to train and also the flavoured versions can ‘trick’ your mind into feeling fuelled.
Learn from challenges and do not give up, even if you ‘failed’.
The purpose of each one of our nutrition challenges is to allow us to learn about our current habits and find solutions that fit our lifestyle.
The intent of the no booze, sugar and bread challenge is no necessarily to remove those choices from our diet but to educate us on how we can live with less of them and realise how dependant we were on them.
For the tracking challenge we learn to value the importance of planning and tracking, but also understand that maybe we were taking on board the wrong balance or quantities of food.
For this challenge it is about removing the grazing mentality and realising that we do not need to be constantly eating. The logic that eating more often will help us lose weight is obvious to a child but thanks to clever marketing from the food industry intelligent adults have been convinced that healthy snacking is the best way to lose weight!! What would our great grandparents have told us? Not to eat more often to lose weight, that is for sure!!
Evaluate and hit the second half harder
Take some time to look at what you have learned from the challenge and start to evaluate your excuses for failing. Is there a solution that you can implement to create positive change?
Good luck for the rest of the challenge!! Please contact me if you have a question on the challenge you would like answered.