Three months ago I decided to give up eating between meals, and I started Quit Snacking as an accountability aid for me and to track my experience. I targeted snacking as a behaviour because in Covid times I noticed I had been drinking alcohol every day, so gave that up for Dry January. As a consequence, my snacking got really out of hand and I gained a lot of weight.
Three months on, it’s time for an update.
1. My insomnia is pretty much gone. I don’t wake up needing the toilet or a drink of water. I don’t wake up from crazy stress dreams. I don’t wake up when my husband gets up and wanders around the house.
2. I am not influenced by others eating or the presence of food. I can prepare dinner without wanting to nibble little off cuts or spoonfuls “just for a taste”. Other people enjoying a snack does not result in an overwhelming urge to join in. Advertisements have no effect on my appetite. I also feel no judgement of people who are enjoying a snack.
3. I can wait for a meal. I have a selection of distraction and delaying behaviours I turn to if my meal is delayed for some reason. I don’t feel frustrated or disappointed if there is a need to wait because my distraction behaviours are also kind of fun.
4. I can walk away from food I am just about to eat if needed. If I suddenly need to drive a kid somewhere, answer the door or deal with an emergency mid-meal, it causes no annoyance. Mealtime no longer possesses sacred qualities for me, and I don’t endow food with magical happiness-inducing properties above other sources of contentment.
5. My dental hygiene routine is so much easier now. I don’t have snack mush clinging to my teeth in the evening. I don’t wake up with such a gross morning mouth.
6. I’ve lost weight without doing anything in particular. Last month I happened to lose 10 pounds. These have stayed off without me paying attention to anything except ensuring my meals are well balanced and that I have had enough high-fibre carbs and plenty of veg.
1. Drinking and snacking disrupt blood sugar levels, driving a cycle that is incredibly difficult to interrupt. Eating properly balanced meals that provide a slow release of carbs into my bloodstream results in a virtuous cascade of physical wellbeing, resulting in a happier and more productive frame of mind, and more effective social behaviour. I never would have learned about this had I not engaged in this project to give up both alcohol and pointless eating.
2. Snack attacks and my response to them are not a reflection of my character.
3. My menopause symptoms are aggravated by alcohol and blood sugar swings.
4. Dealing with difficult emotions is not easy, but neither booze nor overeating actually helps. In fact, these coping behaviours just create more problems.
5. My “judgy self” crops up at the most surprising times. I now have some strategies for catching her and stopping unhelpful cycles of behaviour and unwanted outcomes.
6. Going to bed early is a really good thing to do when life feels overwhelming, rather than trying to persist with a day that makes a bottle of wine and eating a whole cheese platter seem like the smartest idea I’ve ever had.
7. I’m very good at scaring myself. Emerging from Covid lockdown seemed like a terrifying prospect. I was afraid of strangers. I was afraid of acting rude, dumb, or awkward. I was afraid of being judged by my friends who I’ve not seen in ages. I was afraid of all the government rules and not being able to remember what was expected of me. Turns out, almost everyone feels the same way and in fact people are generally cutting each other a lot of slack.