I am a recovering snacdict. That’s a snack addict, for the uninitiated. Some of my nearest and dearest call me Snack Gawd.
And I actually answer.
For years, it didn’t phase me that I couldn’t go a day without chips or chocolate or sweets or or or. I mean, as a child, the only reason I would eat my veggies at dinner is so that I could get to the snack that was a reward for a clear plate.
When I entered my 30s, I started to notice I wasn’t all the way ok with how much chips and chocolate and sweets and and and I was actually eating. I was snacking waya waya. To the point where my stomach was bloated but I would insist on making yet another snack bowl. My friends thought I was being too hard on myself because, well, who is addicted to snacks?
It’s strange to say because there’s no 12 step program for it. But, I was literally uncomfortable. I would be full from the food and snacks I had throughout the day but, if it’s 6pm, I’d still force myself to eat a meal so that I can have chips afterward. That reward program became one I was a staunch member of. So, for two years, I became obsessed with stopping. Each time I would fail, the obsession would intensify.
So, I stopped trying.
At the beginning of 2021, I committed to doing a three-day juice cleanse. I knew I would definitely be back to exacting snacks again but I was just hoping the cleanse would help me slow down or introduce moderation into my life. It’s been a week since I completed the cleanse and I feel unshackled.
That’s not to say I don’t feel like a snack after a meal or just randomly. Most days, I still do. But, the biggest difference is I don’t act on my feelings like I used to. It would be a lie to say a juice cleanse cured me. I don’t know if I’m cured. What I know is: I feel empowered to make better choices for my body and my mind. That’s a result of three major personal shifts:
1. Giving to myself
Don’t get it even a little bit twisted: these were some of the hardest three days of my life. Not because I was pretty much on a liquid diet but because it was the first time in years I had to exercise mind over matter. To remember that the “suffering” was temporary. What really changed things for me was remembering that this wasn’t about depriving myself of snacks or solid food, but it was about giving myself a chance to be in control of my reactions to temporary states like hunger. It makes me emo to think about what that mental shift did and how it now mirrors how I deal with my reactions to negative circumstances.
2. Replacing the reward
It’s not the only reason but I figured out early that some of my obsession with snacks is based on a reward system. Your obsession may come from a collection of different things. But, for me, it felt like I was being good to myself, showing myself love and giving myself a treat for enduring (vegetables, an argument, period pains, a bad interview, whatever). There’s probably a psychological case to be made for ditching the reward system altogether but I’m not a psychologist and I can only tell you what seems to be working for me. Now, there isn’t an adequate English sentence that can describe the pride I feel when I don’t give in to putting snacks in my shopping trolley. I think that’s the ultimate expression of self-love: choosing what is right for me and refusing temptation because I want to be better.
3. Keeping the door open
There’s a price to pay for living your life according to absolutes like “I don’t do abc” or “I only do xyz”. As someone who strugggggles with the grey areas, I know how expensive it is. So, I don’t tell myself, or people, that I don’t eat snacks. If I did that and then “fell off the wagon”, it would be devastating on a personal level and embarrassing on a public one. So, I take each moment as it comes. The reality is: I do actually enjoy many a snack. I want to continue to eat snacks and actually enjoy normal portions of them. I just don’t want them to be a part of my everyday life in a way that I am not in control of. I hope that the next time you see me suggest a snack to you, you’ll know it’s one I truly enjoy. I run the snacks, the snacks don’t run me. Ok, I was trying to finish this blog post strong but that line doesn’t quite work. Forget I said it. The point is: I’m keeping the door open for a time when I am able to savour a snack again and not have it be a gateway back into non-stop eating.
Have you cut down on snacks or are you recovering from something else? Tell me how you overcame it in the comments.