Have you been trying to figure out how to STOP SNACKING? Then this is the podcast episode you’ve been waiting for – with practical tips and the mindset shift that makes it possible.
Today on the Fitness Matters podcast, we’re chatting about HABITS we’d like to break (like snacking when you’d rather not), and HOW to break them. You’ve probably noticed that *making yourself* stop doing something feels terrible, and doesn’t really last. But the process I’m sharing today will change how you THINK (and FEEL) about your habits, so you can STOP any time you want to.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
👉 WHY we do things we don’t consciously want to do
👉 HOW to change what you’re doing, and
👉 The SECRET SAUCE that makes it stick
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How to Stop Snacking (full transcript)
You’re listening to the Fitness Matters Podcast with Pahla B. And this is episode number 245: “How to Stop Snacking.”
Welcome to Fitness Matters podcast, where every week we talk about the fitness matters that matter to you. I’m Pahla B, YouTuber, certified life and weight loss coach, soon to be author and your best middle-aged fitness friend. Are you ready to talk about the fitness mindset that matters to you? Me, too. Let’s go.
Ready to read and better yet, talk about another great self-help book? Join the Pahla B Wellness Over 50 book club in partnership with Chirp Audiobooks. Our July-August pick is “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. And you can grab it at a great discount with no monthly subscription fees at chirpbooks.com/Pahla, that’s P-A-H-L-A. And while you’re there be sure to click the follow button to get exclusive access, updates, and information about our live event. See you there.
Well, hello, my friends. It is so good to be here with you today, and I am jumping right in. Here we go. We’re talking about this topic. There’s no preamble at all, even though I desperately want to preamble, but I also really have a lot of things to do today. So I want to get this podcast out and ready for you, and I want to talk about how to stop snacking. But first, before we do that, there is a preamble because I have a whole podcast within a podcast about how snacking in and of itself is not necessarily bad.
I brought this particular title to you because it’s a question that I get asked all the time. And I know that there’s a lot of really conventional wisdom out there about it. In fact, I even have a really, really, really old video about snacking, where I was talking about how to stop snacking. This video was not even available on my main YouTube channel. There’s a whole other conversation to be had here about how I used to have the precursor to my podcast. It was called The Buzz. It was a whole channel all by itself. And I have, I don’t know, maybe a dozen little videos that are basically podcasts, except it’s the actual video of me talking. And they’re like 10 or 15 minutes apiece, and I have just little bits of wisdom about stuff. And it was definitely the precursor to talking about mindset work.
And this really specific video that I have about how to stop snacking is where I’m talking about how, if you’re going to “snack” (and I’m putting heavy air quotes on that) you should actually just call it a meal. Say you’re going to be eating something in the realm of 300, 400 or 500 calories, which we often do. You go to Starbucks, and you get a lemon loaf or whatever. That’s actually enough calories to be a meal, but we call it a snack because of the type of food that it is. And so I was talking about the mindset of snacking versus just eating a meal and how calling it a meal will help you fit it mentally into your day in a different way. But the word “snack” really discounts how many calories something might have, and that is its own conversation.
And the other thing that I want to tell you is that snacking in and of itself is not necessarily bad for you or bad for your weight loss goals. If you are eating in your slight caloric deficit, it really doesn’t matter when you are eating. I have plenty of people who want to argue with me about this, about how a calorie is not a calorie. And you’re right, it’s not. There are absolutely foods that are more satiating for you, that just sit better in your stomach, that are going to give you more energy, that are going to be healthier for you. Absolutely. However, having said that, I also don’t feel that your diet needs to be a hundred percent healthy food. I think that you can find a nice balance between foods that give you pleasure and comfort and foods that are going to fuel you appropriately.
And here’s what I’m saying. If you are eating in your slight caloric deficit, it doesn’t matter when or what you are eating to a certain extent. Again, you don’t want to have your day’s worth of calories to all be eaten at 10:30 at night if you’re going to go to bed at 11 o’clock and they’re all Twinkies. There is a conversation to be had about finding that balance. However, the crux of what I’m saying here is that there’s actually nothing about snacking at night that’s going to automatically stop you from losing weight. There’s nothing about eating a bunch of small meals that you might call snacks, that’s going to stop your weight loss progress. Both of those kinds of myths have been, I’m not going to say entirely debunked. The fact is your body is going to do with your inputs what it’s going to do, and it’s not only about the food.
Your body takes in the inputs that you give it, and it puts them all together. It’s why with the 5-0 Method . . . By the way, if you don’t know what that is, it’s my free weight loss program. You can get it anywhere. The easiest place to do it is just go to PahlaBfitness.com. It’s right there on the front page, completely free to download. And what I tell you is that there are five things that we do every day. And the reason I tell you that there are five things rather than just “eat” and “exercise” is because your body is making sense of all of the things that you do all day long. So how much water you take in, how much sleep you’ve gotten, how much stress you have in your life, as well as what you’re eating and how you’re exercising and what you’re doing for the rest of the day beyond exercise – all of those inputs are meshed together by your body and then your body will do with those inputs whatever it’s going to do.
So snacking in and of itself is not bad. However, having said that, you might have a really specific reason why you would like to stop eating a really specific snack. That is simply a habit. We all have these. Let me just tell you something. We all have these habits that we’re like, “Okay, this isn’t necessarily the thing that’s stopping me, but I don’t love the way I feel when I’m having this particular snack.” And maybe you don’t love the way you feel because you feel guilty about eating this particular food. Maybe you don’t love the way it feels in your body. Maybe you don’t love that you are eating perhaps out of boredom or eating your feelings instead of managing your feelings. There are all kinds of reasons why you might like to change a habit and that’s really what we’re talking about today. Honestly, if snacking isn’t a habit that feels like an issue for you, you are welcome to substitute whatever other habit you have that you would like to stop doing. Or maybe you would like to consider starting a habit. In any event, this is the conversation for you.
I was actually, I’ll be honest with you, going to call this episode “Success Habits” because that is what we’re talking about. And it occurred to me that maybe you don’t care about success habits. Maybe you care about this really specific thing about stopping snacking or starting exercising as a habit. There are times when we don’t think about the bigger category of the thing that we would like help with. And that’s why I sometimes give you these episodes that are titled really specific things so that you can learn a larger concept in the realm of one specific thing. So let’s talk about what it means to either create a habit for yourself or stop doing a habit, really specifically the stop doing a habit. And oftentimes, what we do when we’re trying to stop doing a habit is we try to replace the habit with something else.
This is something I notice in myself all the time, and I notice it in you. And the thing that we all do is we try to do something. And I know that this feels like a very obvious place to start with. If I want to make a habit, then I have to do something to create a habit. But I will tell you that everything we have ever talked about here on the Fitness Matters podcast is how fitness matters to you. But also how doing gets you results, but doing isn’t where the process starts, the process of getting results. If you want a result in your life, yes, you have to do things, but we don’t just, in a vacuum, do things. We all think we do. We all think, “Oh, I’m just going to set my alarm and then of course I’ll get up and I’ll exercise. And of course, then I’ll have the body that I want and I’ll get this result of losing the weight and getting fit and boom, done.”
But have you noticed when you set your alarm that you don’t magically get up? That it’s not that easy? It’s not that simple? Doing does not necessarily get you the results that you want because doing something is difficult. The reason we do anything is because we have a feeling, and I want that to really sink in with you. You don’t do anything without some kind of feeling behind it. For example, if you actually do get up when your alarm goes off in the morning, it’s because you feel, I’m going to say, motivated. I don’t necessarily wake up motivated though. Maybe energetic, maybe well-rested, maybe determined, maybe confident, maybe excited.
Some kind of good feeling is behind that getting up when the alarm goes off and actually getting your workout done. And you know what comes before that feeling of motivation, my friends? It’s a thought. It’s a thought of something along the lines of, “I can do this. I want to do this. This feels amazing. I always love it when I start my day with a workout.” There is some kind of thought that is generating the feeling of something good – motivated, excited, energetic, whatever it is that is driving the actions. This is why you do the things you do. So let’s consider that in the realm of snacking. Why do you snack? Because afterwards, sometimes you might feel bad, either physically feel bad or mentally or emotionally feel bad. Why in the world would you do something that feels bad afterwards? My friends, because it feels good to do that thing while you are doing it.
You and I both know what this feels like. I know exactly what this feels like. The food tastes good in my mouth. That pleasure of the tasting good overrides the not so pleasurable feeling of lousy later. And why you put the food in your mouth is because you have a feeling something like desire. Sometimes it’s urgency. Like, “Oh, I have to have that.” But sometimes it’s just as simple as, “I want that.” That thought either “I have to have that”, or “I want that,” creates the feeling of either desire or urgency, which drives the action of snacking. My friends, sometimes it really is that simple. And I know that this one’s actually really kind of tough to take in because we all think that maybe the reason that we’re doing this action that feels bad later, that we feel guilty about, or that doesn’t feel good in our stomach – we all think that there must be some deep reason.
I’m self sabotaging. I know you can’t see me because this is a podcast. I totally just did that dramatic hand action of putting the back of my hand onto my forehead and pretending like I’m fainting. I was doing this over dramatic thing for you, even though you can’t see me because that’s how we feel. We really, truly think that there must be some, “When I was five, this thing happened. And then I’ve always had this habit in my life that sabotages me so that I can’t get where I want to go.” And you guys, sometimes it’s a thought, as simple as, “That looks delicious. “I want that.” It doesn’t have to be some big thing. It is a thought. And here is how you can have a different habit in your life.
It’s not by simply doing something different. It’s not by simply doing something and hoping that it creates the feeling of motivation in your life. When you do something, you will eventually generate some kind of thought about the thing that you are doing, but it’s not necessarily going to go the way you want it to go. It’s not necessarily going to generate for you the feeling of motivation. The way to create a feeling of motivation is to first of all, figure out why you feel unmotivated. And then second of all, figure out how to create a feeling of motivation for yourself on purpose. So in the example of how to stop snacking, the first thing that you want to do is find the thoughts that are creating the feelings that are driving the actions of snacking. Just examine what’s going on in your head, and I said that so easily and so casually.
Sometimes you will find a thought that does feel a little more painful, a little more squirmy, a little more uncomfortable. Sometimes you will uncover thoughts that are creating for you feelings of stress or feelings of sadness or feelings of frustration. Sometimes, especially in the case of when you are eating your feelings instead of feeling your feelings, you are going to find thoughts in there that don’t feel good. Understand that this is part of this process and it’s completely okay. Even if it feels squirmy and uncomfortable, you are capable of doing this. You are not going to find something that feels so lousy that you can’t handle it. You are capable of feeling whatever feeling you uncover. So come to it knowing that. Come to it by digging out your journal, my friends. This is the part where we find our thoughts and we decide if they’re helpful.
Find the thoughts that are driving the action of eating a snack that maybe you don’t want to be eating. Then my friends, you have cleared out the space in your brain to really just examine these thoughts, compassionately, kindly and understand, “Oh, this is what this is creating in my life.” It could be as simple as a thought of, “I want that.” “I want that” could be driving your habit of eating a snack every night, and that is really simple to find. Now here’s the thing. It is not necessarily simple to just decide that you’re going to have a new habit, for example, not snacking. And then boom, you’re done here. The thing about that thought, “I want that,” is that it has emotional resonance, which is to say that it creates, I’m going to call it, a big feeling. That’s not necessarily an accurate thing to call it. Your feelings, technically speaking, are all the same size. Some of them feel stronger though. That’s why I’m calling it a big feeling. It’s not about the size of it.
It’s about the amount that it seems to create in your body of a feeling. It’s a feeling that you can feel right now. That urgency, that desire has emotional resonance to it. It has a big feeling behind it. And the converse thought of, “I’m not going to have that right now,” probably doesn’t feel very big or very good. And that’s why it could be really tough to stop having your snack. It can be tough dealing with the emotional resonance that goes along with the thought, “I want that” or, “That looks good,” or “That’s delicious,” or, “Gee, wouldn’t ice cream be nice right now?” Understanding that the emotional resonance – the bigness of the emotion – is what is driving your action. It means that you can come to it with an understanding of how big the emotional resonance needs to be of a different thought. If your original thought, “I want that,” feels strong in your body, then any other thought that you want to create for yourself intentionally needs to be that strong.
This is why simply doing something in an effort to create a new habit doesn’t always work. The emotional resonance that you might be creating for yourself might be really small, really not resonant, frankly. Doing something doesn’t automatically create a new thought and a new feeling that is as strong, is as resonant as the old thing that you were doing. This is why it feels so hard to overcome habits. The emotional resonance that you have from whatever the thought may be is the thing that is driving the habit again and again and again. My friends, that doesn’t mean that you can’t overcome a habit. It means that you simply need to understand what that thought is. And here’s something that you can do about it. You can feel that feeling all the way through. I want you to just imagine this for a second because here’s what we do when we’re having a snack. We have the thought, “I want that.” It feels like an urgent desire.
It almost feels like I have to have that, especially with something really delicious. And I know that even while I’m talking about this, I’m picturing in my mind a food that I really want. Can you feel that urgent desire? Now here’s the thing. We oftentimes – in fact, all the time up until right this second when I’m mentioning it to you – have to quell that desire by eating. But I want you to imagine simply feeling that desire in your body without fighting it because what happens is the desire in your body actually feels really uncomfortable. And I know that while we’re sitting here talking about this – if you are not cleaning your house or out for a walk or something – I know that even me talking about this is creating a desire for whatever food you’re imagining in your body right now. That feeling of desire is a feeling exactly like happiness, sadness, grief, excitement, surprise, anger. It’s a feeling. Which means like all feelings, you can actually just feel it without acting on it. Did you know that you can feel your feelings?
I have quite a few conversations about this. There was an episode somewhat recently where we actually just sat and felt our feelings for a moment. It was a very interactive podcast. And if I can remember which one it is, I’m going to put an episode number for you with the title because I can’t come up with it off the top of my head. I’ll put it in the show notes or the description box, depending on where you’re watching or listening. It was a really good episode. And we actually just sat and felt a feeling in our bodies. And this is what you can do with that feeling of urgent desire. You can simply allow the feeling to exist in your body and feel uncomfortable. Like all feelings, it will come up. It will feel, if I had to guess, I would say that it probably feels very squirmy in your body.
It may feel very urgent, very jittery, very fidgety, like your fingers and your toes are going to want to fidget. You’re going to feel kind of bubbly in your torso, in your stomach. You can simply feel that. And like all feelings, with time – in about a minute and a half – it will completely dissipate. Here’s how feelings work. You have a thought, which is just an electrical impulse in your brain. Your electrical impulse fires through your synapses, through your neural pathway. And if it’s a thought like, “I want that,” this is a well worn neural pathway. That electric spark generates a cascade of chemicals and hormones that do different things in your body. For example, it will probably elevate your heart rate, elevate your breathing rate, possibly elevate your sweat rate. It might do something to your salivary glands or open up your snot box, depending on which feeling it is.
Some feelings go straight to your eyes and nose. And what I mean is, it makes you cry. Sometimes it’ll close up your throat. Sometimes it will make your skin flush. Sometimes it will generate that bubbly kinetic feeling in your body. Depending on what kind of feeling it is, you will have a different physiological response. These are involuntary physiological responses that feel different ways, depending on what kind of a feeling it is. This is why we call them feelings, because you can feel them in your body. Those chemicals and hormones are meant to bubble up and propel you into some sort of action because that’s what feelings do. And then they dissipate because you don’t need to continue doing one action for any real length of time. You only need to do one action for a short amount of time before it’s time to move on and do something else.
Your feelings are meant to be temporary. The reason we sometimes feel a feeling for a long time, like that urgent desire, is because we aren’t allowing it. When you try to not snack, can you feel how tense that is in your body? How you’re gripping your hands and squeezing yourself so tightly to not feel that urgent desire? To not act on that urgent desire? That resistance to feeling the feeling of urgent desire is what actually creates the urgent desire again and again and again and again and again in your body for a long period of time. Fighting the urge makes the urge last longer. So ironic. When you can allow that incredibly, intensely uncomfortable feeling of urgent desire for a minute and a half. It will go away.
I know this is kind of a novel concept to just feel your feelings. I tell you what though, it’s the answer to everything. It’s amazing how useful this skill is. And trust me, it’s a skill. Allowing your body to feel a feeling while you do nothing is unnatural. Your body is supposed to feel feelings to compel you to act. It’s why it feels so hard to just allow a feeling. Allowing urgent desire to exist in your body without acting on it is unnatural. And it is the way to allow it to pass so that you can create a new success habit in your life. The new success habit of not having a snack just because you want a snack. I know this got very theoretical today with getting into the weeds of feeling your feelings and why we feel feelings and how it all works.
But here’s what I want you to take away from this. If you want to stop doing something, a habit and/or create a new habit for yourself, the path to all of your habits is your feelings. The reason we do things or the reason we don’t do things is because of our feelings. You are capable of feeling a feeling and not acting on it. And you are also capable of creating a feeling for yourself on purpose that feels in an emotionally resonant way so powerful, that you will drive yourself to an action that you want to do. My friends, the power is always yours, and the power lies in your feelings. I really hope this was helpful for you today. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you again soon.
If you are getting a lot out of the Fitness Matters podcast and you’re ready to take it to the next level, you are going to love the Get Your Goal coaching and accountability group. We take all the theory and knowledge here on the podcast and actually apply it in real life on your real weight loss and fitness goals. It’s hands on, it’s fun, and it works. Find out more at PahlaBfitness.com/get-your-goal. And let’s get your goal.