I’ve told this story now to several friends & fitness members and realised that snacking (and perhaps sometimes on less healthy options!) is actually something that others have also struggled with during lockdown. Hopefully, sharing this story and my experiences will help others too become curious about their own snacking behaviours!

‘Hanging out’ at the fridge

One Thursday afternoon towards the end of April, hanging off the fridge door handle, staring into the fridge – it suddenly occurred to me that I’d developed a rather unhealthy relationship with Toblerone!

Thankfully on this occasion I caught myself out before breaking off another triangle (or 2) and putting it in my mouth without further thought.

I’m not sure why on this occasion it suddenly occurred to me that this wasn’t my usual working at home behaviour & then became such a defining moment. But I’m so glad it did.

I realised it was not my first visit to the fridge that afternoon. In fact, I had made lots of trips to the fridge in the afternoon over the past couple of weeks that I wouldn’t normally make. Usually I very rarely snack during the day, and if I do, I head for the fruit bowl.

Naturally (me being me!) I became curious about my behaviour. I wasn’t hungry, I’d eaten my lunch. Why was it that I felt the need to eat chocolate at that moment? What were the benefits for me? What were the consequences? Of course, I knew the consequences, but I did not want to think about that straightaway!

I decided to close the fridge door, flick on the kettle, and make myself a fruit tea instead. I sat in the garden quietly pondering on these questions.

Short term benefits

In summary, it made me feel good!

Chocolate contains sugar and cocoa. Due to influences on blood sugar and neurotransmitter, chemicals such as dopamine both are known to have positive impacts in the short term on memory, concentration, and mood. The dopamine production released can make us feel good and want to repeat the behaviour. However, our bodies then need to go through a series of processes to reduce blood sugar and re-balance our hormones. Therefore, often the short-term benefits are short lived, and can leave us struggling to concentrate and feeling tired. Cue for more sugar, and the cycle repeats.

It can also present itself with feelings of guilt and shame later in the day, particularly if the cycle has been repeated several times.  And naturally, that doesn’t make me feel good!

But, digging a bit deeper

I realised that chocolate snacking was really representing 3 re-occurring new afternoon lockdown themes:

  • Tiredness
  • Busy/stress
  • Boredom

I decided from now on, when hanging off the fridge door I needed to stop and have a plan for each of these 3 situations. I needed to replace the short-term satisfaction I was getting from a couple of Toblerone triangles, with something that my body and mind was telling me that I really needed. Here are a few of the activities I came up with instead:

  • Have a cup of tea in the sunshine
  • Sit outside in the sunshine with my eyes closed for 10 minutes
  • Have a hug with Billy
  • Play a daft game with Jasper
  • Play with a gym ball/dumbbell/balance cushion/other piece of equipment for 5-10 minutes, tune in to how my body and mind responds
  • Text a friend to say hello

Putting the plan into action

I found that it was actually much easier than I thought it would be! I think it was because I’d taken a step back and accepted that part of me was looking for something in that moment.  And, without judgement, I allowed myself the choice of doing whatever felt best in that moment for me. The solutions were all based around personal choices of what I love to do and what fits into my current lifestyle.

I also decided that if after I’d thought about why I was looking for chocolate and it wasn’t for comfort but because I wanted to eat chocolate, then for me at that moment that was an acceptable choice – because I was mindfully eating and had taken back control.

I am pleased to report, I didn’t touch the rest of the Toblerone for a further 3-4 days. What was also interesting is that I haven’t felt like buying any since. And I have realised writing this that actually I haven’t been hanging out at the fridge door. Without deliberately avoiding the fridge, I’ve naturally found something that works for me.

Perhaps the easy solution would have been to just remove all chocolate from the house. But maybe that would have been boring! For me, being curious and experimenting with healthier habits was far more fun and empowered me to feel in control of snacking on chocolate again. I accepted that it’s all part of the lockdown journey. I’m human and beating myself up about eating chocolate AGAIN wasn’t going to help.

Does this story resonate with you?

Looking at the bigger picture and making small adjustments in your routine can often help create sustainable healthy habits, increase confidence, and naturally motivate you to make other healthy eating and fitness choices.

Coming soon – Billy is starting an online 14-day challenge to create a new healthy eating or fitness habit and find easy ways to integrate it into your lifestyle. To register your interest in this group, please click here.

If you want to find out more about our services and how we could help you to reach and sustain a healthier lifestyle then call us now on 07793 024068 (Jayne) or 07530 706258 (Billy), contact us here or email us at info@steps2wardshealth.co.uk.