Have you ever read the nutrition facts on your favorite snack bar? 100 calories here… 45g of sugar there…

That’s not much, right?

Well, it can be. And it could be particularly problematic if you’re trying to lose weight, or even just maintain it.

junk_foodIt’s not just the calories. It’s the blood sugar spike that causes fat storage and a blood sugar roller coaster. It’s the leptin resistance (inability to be satisfied and feel full). It’s the declining awareness of true hunger. It’s the digestive issues that result from piling more food upon food upon food before it has had a chance to digest–bloating, gas, toxin buildup causing bad breath, belching.

It’s the added stress on your system trying to process all that food and protect you from toxins and other natural byproducts of digestion. It’s the stress on your productivity as your system allocates resources to digestion, pulling them away from your brain, causing brain fog. It’s the stress on you as you wonder why you don’t feel great and energized.

And its the accumulation of all of this that makes you feel like crap, feel sluggish, feel bad about your body, and want to eat more (usually sugar or carbs) for that transient high in which your brain receive a hit serotonin and dopamine.

It’s a problem. And it’s one I suffered from for a long time. To be quite honest, occasionally I fall victim to the snack monster again (usually around the holidays or during a stressful time.)

So, what can you do to break this vicious cycle?

Start with mindfulness. Increase your awareness. Develop your mind-body connection. Learn to recognize true hunger. Begin to feel what your body needs, what its really asking for, and honor that.

Hiking Tea FieldsMaybe it’s rest. Maybe it’s water. A chat with a friend. A walk outside. Playtime. A break from work, the computer screen, the phone.

Ask yourself, and begin to really listen, am I hungry? Is my body in need of caloric nourishment? Is my body thirsty?

Or is it in need of other nourishment–love, touch, deep sleep, movement, sunshine, fresh air, deep breaths, freedom from restrictive clothing, less sugar, less calories, less frequent eating?

Let your body be your guide, awareness be your translator, and mindfulness be your aspiration. Acknowledge and live in the wisdom of the body.

In the comments below, share your thoughts on snacking… To Snack, or Not To Snack? Why? And, if you do snack, what do you go for?

Next week we’ll share some ways to resist the urge to snack with low (or no) cal drinks.