How to Stop Mindless Snacking, FINALLY

During my last healthy habits challenge, the one question I got asked most from people was how to stop mindlessly snacking. To be perfectly honest, the whole reason this habit is part of the program is because it’s something I’ve struggled with, and I know it’s something that affects almost all of us from time to time… some more than others!

During my last healthy habits challenge the one question I got asked most from participants was how to stop mindless snacking so today I'm sharing my five best tips!

That said, when I switched to eating three meals a day and started to experiment with intermittent fasting, I realized how much more intentional I was being around food. I think I had gotten into such a habit of eating snacks at certain times that it was more mindless than truly tuned into my body’s hunger cues. This can happen when our brains associate food with the environment or time and we act out of instinct.

I’ll be the first to say that becoming more intentional around eating (especially snacking!) is not easy. It’s hard to curb mindless snacking and it takes practice, but I have some practical tips to share to get you moving in the right direction!

  1. Time your meals. Plan out your meals for the day — know what you’re going to eat and when. If you skip a meal, you will get hungry (and maybe even hangry) and that will increase your chances of mindless snacking. Ever been to a grocery store on an empty stomach? Did you buy snacks and food not on your grocery list? That is what I’m talking about. When your brain knows there’s a plan, you’re more likely to be more mindful around food. If you plan to snack, think about when you usually get the most hungry and have a pre-portioned snack with you. For most, that’s between lunch and dinner.
  2. Treat your snacks like a meal. Try to solely eat when you snack. Put it on a plate, sit at the table, put away your phone, stop working, and just pay attention to the food you’re eating and enjoy it! Being more intentional around your snacks (and meals) will help you recognize when you’re full, therefore helping to keep your snacking in check.
  3. If you can’t stop, use a few tricks. We’ve all had those days when we are bottomless pits. If you have the urge to continue to snack, here are my top tricks:
    1. Make sure you eat a satisfying snack! A good mix of protein, healthy fats and veggies is the perfect combo. Focusing on real, whole foods is key too because most processed food (aka junk food) is loaded with additives that make it impossible for you to stop munching after one bite. They’re the perfect combo of sweet or salty that have you going back for more every time.
    2. Stay hydrated and/or find something to sip. Sometimes we snack because we think we’re hungry, but actually our body is just dehydrated and craving good ol’ H2O. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a great way to combat this, but it can also be helpful to have some additional sipping options on hand like sparkling water, herbal teas or even my apple cider vinegar detox drinks. Lately I’ve been having a mug of Four Sigmatic Reishi Mushroom Tea after dinner each night.
    3. Brush your teeth. Trust me on this one. Sometimes when you have leftover flavors in your mouth you continue to crave them.
    4. Entertain yourself. This will look different for everyone, but find an activity that changes your mindset, distracts you and prevents you from going into the kitchen. Get excited about reading a new book, do a yoga routine before bed, take a bath to relax or start a new craft project.
  4. Control the environment.
    1. If you can’t stop, it might be time to take drastic measures. Stop buying those snacks you cannot resist eating! You cannot eat what is not there. It may seem obvious, but storing snack foods out of sight or in hard-to-reach places can be helpful too. Out of sight, out of mind. This tip almost works too well for me. I like to store baked goods (and other snack foods) in the freezer or on the top shelf behind stuff so that if I have a craving it’s there, but it’s not out on the counter or front and center in the pantry. Often times I’ll forget all about it, and by the time I find it months later it’s no longer good.
    2. If you notice that there are certain activities when you always end up mindlessly snacking (watching TV, putting away dinner leftovers, post-baking cookies), you may need to change this routine. I noticed that every night when I was putting our leftovers from dinner away I was nibbling on them. It wasn’t a ton of food, but I was full from dinner so the snacking was unnecessary and pretty mindless. One easy solution that I’ve found is to ask Isaac to put away the food. He likes being helpful and it removes me from the situation.
  5. Combat the underlying cause. Often times we find ourselves mindlessly snacking because of certain emotions or situations (boredom, loneliness, stress). Have you ever received a heated email and immediately made a beeline to the kitchen for a treat, just to procrastinate writing the response? Start to notice when your emotions are fueling your eating and try to find a different outlet for those emotions! This one is tough (especially if you’ve been an emotional eater your whole life) and I won’t deny that it requires a ton of practice, but figuring out how to deal with emotions without using food is huge when it comes to mindless snacking.

No matter how many meals and snacks you need throughout the day, I think it’s important to be intentional around food. Are you a mindless eater? What are your best tips for stopping that habit?

How to Stop Mindless Snacking Once and For ALL
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    1. Carla
      January 5, 2021 AT 3:43 am

      I notice that I’m eating mindlessly perhaps due to the pandemic, being unemployed and helping my elderly mother find a new home. I’ve done Keto Diet for a year, as well as Weight Watchers. I’ll be 55 years old in May this year. I need to get myself back on good eating habits and the right foods

    2. Deirdre
      September 17, 2020 AT 8:45 pm

      My biggest struggle ever is snacking. Salty and sweet alike! It’s so frustrating. I like the teeth brushing idea also. I had a thought today to try meditation also to help me.

    3. Susan
      May 22, 2020 AT 4:09 pm

      I battle with binge eating disorder and this lockdown and coming winter is not helping. Until I discovered drinking a teaspoon of bovril with hot water. It is meaty, brothy salty hugging cup of warmness that resembles a weak soup almost. Unfortunately high in sodium but it helps!!! Life saver for me.

      Take care.

    4. Annie Hart
      May 22, 2020 AT 2:21 am

      Such a good post. Thank you.

    5. Laura Mason
      May 19, 2020 AT 8:48 am

      These are good tips. They are not easy, but stopping the overeating is not easy at all. This article addresses the truth about snacking, and we have to rise to the challenge!

    6. Kathy Kittle
      October 30, 2019 AT 12:38 pm

      It’s funny that brushing your teeth is one of the ways to stop you from eating snacks because my sister would always tell me to do that when we were in high school and really watching our weight. It really works!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 30, 2019 AT 3:08 pm

        I know, who would have thought! I’m glad it works for you. 🙂

    7. rekki Harry
      August 28, 2019 AT 11:54 am

      Thanks for the tips this really helps. i am constantly snacking , i know it is cause i am stressed. I feel its a phase i need to pass through but i just feel helpless about somethings going on in my life.

    8. James Canning
      August 27, 2019 AT 7:35 am

      Hi Brittany,

      I’m gonna try the tips.I am getting little overweight. I really need to curb the habit of snacking.

    9. Amy Roskelley
      March 26, 2019 AT 4:40 pm

      Hi Brittany!
      It’s so funny. Every time I google something, your blog is always at the top of my results. It’s like we are on the exact same journey, you just got there a year before me and wrote about it! LOL. Thanks for your insight! I agree with EVERYTHING in this post!

    10. Topfeeder54
      March 14, 2019 AT 11:00 am

      I’ve been making Ginger water to use with I.F. As a no/low cal. Beverage,… It’s also a good antioxidant! Two tablespoon raw Ginger seeped in (a-quart) of boiling water for 4 hours, then add 3 quarts of cold water. I purposely leave out Sugar or any sweetener!

    11. The Art of Being Holly
      February 7, 2018 AT 3:58 am

      Such a brilliant post, I am definitely a mindless snacker and working from home means all the temptations are right there, making them even harder to resist. I am going to try and drink more water as I know I don’t drink enough and if it is going to help me stop snacking so much then that is even better & brushing your teeth is a fab idea too – often because it will also make the food you are about to snack on not taste so good! Thanks for all the top tips.

      Holly xo

    12. Annelise
      February 2, 2018 AT 12:46 am

      Thank you for sharing this article! This has been something I’ve really been struggling with lately. I think that the whole idea of being in tune with what your body really wants and eating mindfully is so key. So often I will plan ahead earlier in my day that I’ll have a treat after dinner, and then find myself eating a treat since I planned it, not really because I truly want it. My tip is chewing gum when you’re baking or cooking. That was you’re less tempted to be snacking on whatever you’re making, and can enjoy the dish more when it’s finished!

    13. Jeanette
      February 1, 2018 AT 1:41 pm

      I also partake in intermittent fasting. Great way to stay healthy.

    14. Lee Harmon Waters
      January 29, 2018 AT 8:02 pm

      SUCH great tips!!! I definitely need these. I have been breast-feeding my last child for the past 6 months and he’s now only eating 4 times a day, but I’m so used to having to snack like I did at the beginning where we breastfed around the clock (=burning wayyyy more calories). Thank you <3

    15. Julia Balazs
      January 29, 2018 AT 6:00 pm

      I am guilty of the ‘putting away leftovers’ snacking as well! I noticed it about a year ago and have really tried to be conscious of not doing it since then. I am getting better but am not perfect! My current mindless snacking obstacle is between lunch and dinner at the office. Most of the time I am not hungry, but I crave a handful of pita chips or pretzels or oftentimes a square of dark chocolate. We keep these snacks on hand in our office’s kitchen which is attached to the bathroom so I’m tempted every time I have to use the bathroom and/or fill up my water bottle (which is a lot!).

      xo Jules

    16. Katie
      January 29, 2018 AT 3:03 pm

      I’m kind of playing around with intermittent fasting as well and even though it’s only been (maybe) a week since I decided to just jump in, it’s been very interesting. Mostly I find that I’m not nearly as hungry as I think I am first thing in the morning. If I drink water and have some coffee, I’m honestly not that hungry for awhile. Now, if I happened to snack late the night before, THEN I can’t seem to curb the hunger without food so then I do eat and break the fast…but how interesting, right?

    17. Colleen
      January 29, 2018 AT 12:15 pm

      I think for me, I realized I was not eating enough for breakfast on weekdays, since I am more likely to be in too much of a rush to sit down and eat. So, now I try to make a quick egg and cheese sandwich before I leave, wrap it in foil, and then I can eat it on the go or when I arrive at work. This way, I’m not just snacking and snacking all morning until lunchtime. Great tips – I definitely need to do the “out of sight, out of mind” trick at home – my boyfriend will bake something (I know, he’s amazing haha) and leave it out on the counter, and it is so tempting to mindlessly grab some!

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