While spending most of my waking hours in my apartment this semester, I’ve noticed that my snacking has gone a little bit overboard. To be specific, I mean that I can go through both a family-sized box of Cheez-Its and a full bag of pretzels in a day. It’s so easy — all I have to do is pause my lecture, walk 12 steps to the kitchen and snack. Believe it or not, it took me a few weeks of inhaling my snacks to realize that this diet wasn't all that healthy and that I needed to change something. The result? I tried to live without snacks for two weeks. Here’s how it went.
On a typical Saturday or Sunday, I would make a trip to the grocery store to buy enough snacks and food for the coming week. This time, however, I only bought ingredients for meals. After switching my beloved Cheez-Its for chicken and trading my pretzels for pasta, I was ready to start my experiment.
Three days into my challenge, I came to the conclusion that living without snacks is just not feasible for me. Why? Although I wasn’t munching on honey mustard and onion-flavored pretzels in between classes, I was still “snacking” by eating the food I had bought for meals between lunch and dinner. By Thursday, all I had left for lunch was one slice of cheese and one slice of bread.
While sitting at my kitchen table and trying to savor my attempt at a grilled cheese toast, I tried to reflect on where I went wrong. Then, it occurred to me that snacking is perhaps necessary in moderation. Without snacks, my growling stomach between meals affected my concentration and productivity. Thus, I shifted to a more realistic approach for the second week — snacking in moderation. But I knew this still would not be easy. I mean, how could I not devour a box of Cheez-Its?
Well, this was actually a simple fix — I just didn’t buy any Cheez-Its. I didn’t believe that I’d be able to consume them in reasonable servings, so, to my discontent, I left them off of my grocery list entirely. For other snacks, I decided to buy them in snack-sized portions. Although this alternative was slightly less cost-efficient, I felt that eating out of the smaller bags would make it easier for me to control my consumption.
For my final change, I made a deliberate effort to purchase food for meals that would make me feel fuller for a longer period of time in an attempt to reduce the total amount of snacks I consumed. For the first time, instant oatmeal packs, eggs and bananas filled my shopping cart. After the short trip to the grocery store, I was eager to begin week two and determined to make a change.
Seven days later, I realized something unusual — there were still snack bags left in my cabinet. The plan had worked, and the best part was that I had only changed my eating habits in relatively small ways. Was it the healthiest possible lifestyle? No, but that wasn’t the goal. My plan was only concerned with going an entire week without binging through an entire bag of my favorite snacks.
The effects of my plan’s success weren’t physical. Instead, snacking in moderation had more mental benefits. While eating boxes of Cheez-Its gave me instant gratification, it also made me feel some form of self-disappointment since I couldn’t keep a single box in my apartment for a week, let alone a day. Making these small changes in my life made me feel happier and more satisfied overall.
Everyone’s preferences are different, so I’m not suggesting what you should eat, but I will say that if you’re unhappy with how you eat, then it’s possible to make some adjustments. Start small — don’t make drastic changes like I did during my first week. Do some research and be open to trying new foods. I couldn’t remember the last time I ate oatmeal, but now it’s my breakfast six days a week and keeps me full until lunch.
In concluding this column, I hope you remember two things. First, if you’re struggling with snacking — or any habit for that matter — it’s not impossible to make a change. After feeling the mental benefits of reigning in my snacking habits, I regret not trying to make a change earlier. Second, I want to emphasize that snacking isn’t a bad thing in moderation. I would even go a step further and say that it’s almost necessary, but keeping it within moderation is key. So stay calm, and snack on.
Mario Rosales is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.