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How to Be a More Mindful and Intuitive Snacker

in Other, Snacks

Since beginning my journey towards becoming a more intuitive eater, I have picked up on several helpful principles that make being a mindful eater a bit easier.  Today I am going to focus on mindful snacking, but these principles can certainly apply to full meals, as well.  Let’s take a look at seven of my favorite ways to encourage intuitive eating and smarter snacking.

Mindful Snacking GraphicHow to Be a More Mindful and Intuitive Snacker

1. Start with a smaller portion than you think you are hungry for.

Many of us are guilty of filling our bowls or plates to the brim, regardless of where our hunger levels are at.  This becomes a problem when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.  It is sometimes difficult to stop eating when we are full if we still have food remaining in our bowls or on our plates.  If we start with a smaller portion of the food we are craving, we force ourselves to revisit our cravings and hunger levels once the smaller portion has been eaten.  If we are still hungry or want a bit more, we can then return for a second smaller portion.

Intuitive Eating Bowls Plates2. Use small bowls and plates for snacks as opposed to full-sized bowls and plates.

We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths and stomachs.  I think we can all agree that a large bowl or plate that is only filled one-third of the way full does not look very appetizing.  If we start with smaller bowls and plates, we can fill them all the way.  This is positive for two reasons.  The food looks prettier, and as referenced above, we can revisit our hunger levels once the smaller bowl or plate is empty.

Intuitive Eating Spoonful3. Grab a spoonful.

There is something so fun about eating a spoonful of nut butter or hummus, am I right?  Don’t worry.  I am not going to tell you to stop doing this.  But what I am going to recommend that you do is grab a spoonful and then put the container away.  I like dipping chocolate and/or apples into nut butter, and dipping those into a spoonful of peanut butter is almost always the perfect amount.  If I leave the jar open, I will inevitably end up eating two or three spoonfuls.  Is there anything wrong with two spoonfuls of nut butter or hummus?  Of course not.  But nine times out of ten, I am completely satisfied with just the one.

4. Eat at the table and eliminate distractions.

If there is one thing that I have found that causes me to not eat mindfully, it is eating with distractions.  Whether that be eating while on a computer or phone, eating while watching television, or eating while reading, we greatly diminish our ability to be mindful eaters with these distractions.  Instead, make a solid effort to eat at the table (not on the couch in front of the TV) and put all technology away.  It can be a bit of an adjustment at first, but it enables us to reconnect with food, our hunger cues, and with our dining buddies.

Pistachios Chocolate Pairing5. Pair an indulgent snack with a healthier snack.

It is time to stop thinking that eating chocolate, candy, or indulgent snacks is “bad.”  This is what causes food guilt and can lead to binge eating.  Instead, we need to embrace our indulgent cravings, but ensure that we pair them with a healthier option for a balanced snack.  If you’re craving chocolate, great!  Pair a smaller portion with a healthier option that will also be filling, like nuts.  One of my current favorite pairings is a small serving of dark chocolate chips served alongside pistachios.  I like pistachios for their taste, but also because of all the nuts around they contain the largest quantity per serving size.  The chocolate and pistachio pairing is the perfect way to indulge in a healthy way.

Fool Yourself Full Pistachios6. Fool yourself full.

Snack on foods that leave you with a visual cue of what you have eaten.  Being able to visually see what we have eaten can prevent us from mindlessly reaching back into the bag once our hunger has been satisfied.  A perfect snack that you can fool yourself full with is a handful of in-shell pistachios.  Pistachios are a low-calorie snack (you can enjoy about 30 kernels for 100 calories) and are high in protein and fiber.  They also provide the perfect visual cue of what you have eaten when you collect the uneaten shells.  The Pistachio Health Institute states that snackers in a research study who left discarded pistachio shells on their desk throughout the day cut their calorie consumption of pistachios by 18 percent compared to those who routinely cleared away their nut shells.  Pretty eye-opening, huh?  The shells will also help slow your snacking down and keep you more aware of your hunger and fullness levels.  Participants in a similar study who consumed in-shell pistachios ate 41 percent fewer calories compared to those who consumed shelled pistachios.  Pistachio shells truly act like nature’s tool for mindful snacking.

7. Once you feel full, put any leftovers in the fridge knowing that you can eat them later.

There is no need for us to eat everything in our bowl or on our plate if we are no longer hungry.  Any remaining food is not going anywhere.  Placing it in a resealable container and into the fridge (if necessary) serves as a visual reminder that it is still there for when we are hungry again.  This principle gives us permission to leave it knowing that we have the ability to eat it in an hour, later that day, or even the next day.

Intuitive snacking is not always easy.  But with these simple principles, you will be well on your way to being a more mindful snacker!  Don’t forget to head over to the Pistachio Health Institute’s Facebook Page to enter to win a year’s supply of pistachios.  Just think of how many mindful snacks we could have with all of those nuts!

What snacking principles do you follow to be a more mindful and intuitive eater?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Joanna @Makingmine March 31, 2015, 6:06 am
    Great tips Hannah! I definitely think that eating out of smaller bowls helps me - I usually feel 100% satisfied even with a smaller serving, so it's clear I don't "need" as much as I used to think I did! And pistachios are an awesome snack - I used to keep those on hand while nursing. I bet I do again! Joanna @Makingmine recently posted...i have no clue what i’m doingMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:23 am
      They are the perfect portable snack! And yes... it is amazing how smart our bodies are. If we listen to them then we will normally find that we can be satisfied with smaller portions... even though that is sometimes hard to do ;)
  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies March 31, 2015, 7:16 am
    I usually try to eat off of our small plates for dinner even -- those dinner plates are just ENORMOUS! I love in-shell pistachios because my serving is limited on how many shells I can remove. When my fingers start hurting, definitely time to stop ;-) Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies recently posted...Whole Wheat Soft PretzelsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:25 am
      Baha! I love that!! Another magical power of the pistachio shells ;)
  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine March 31, 2015, 8:11 am
    I'm not a "snacker" and never have been! BUT....pistachios...they rock ;)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:26 am
      They SO do!! My boyfriend and I love them so much. They are easily one of our favorite snacks!
  • GiGi Eats March 31, 2015, 8:39 am
    I am a pretty mindful eater... If I need a snack or want one (ha!)... It's always super healthy! Last night I was eating spinach wrapped in nori... Can't say that's a bad thing? lol GiGi Eats recently posted...Eggactly What You’re Looking For: Egg SaladsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:26 am
      I've heard stranger things! ;) I think it's important to eat what our bodies are craving. They are quite smart!
  • Marisa @ Uproot from Oregon March 31, 2015, 9:01 am
    Great ideas. I do the same even for dinner - pairing what I made with a healthy side that I load up on! I also love pistachios and the process of breaking down the nut forces your awareness to it :) Marisa @ Uproot from Oregon recently posted...Healthful Vegetable SoupMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:30 am
      Who knew pistachio shells could be so awesome? And yes.. these principles totally apply super well for ALL meals!
  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul March 31, 2015, 9:06 am
    I love pistachios! And I need to start using smaller bowls and plates!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 9:39 am
      Eating from smaller bowls and plates definitely helps me to be more mindful and check in with my hunger cues while I'm eating. If I am truly still hungry after I finish my plate, I feel fine going back for more!
  • The Celiathlete March 31, 2015, 9:50 am
    I really need to focus more on doing the one spoonful of nut butter. Nut butter is my go-to stress food. I think it's the texture and creaminess...but if I stand with the open jar, I'll eat half of it without noticing. Going to definitely strive for these tips. Thank you. The Celiathlete recently posted...Product Review: Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss Salted Caramel & Chocolate Non-Dairy Frozen DessertMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 11:50 am
      It is SO easy to do, isn't it? Especially since nut butter is so delicious! I definitely find that it's hard to tap into my hunger cues when it is sitting there staring at me. So instead I put it away in the pantry and then if I am TRULY hungry after the first spoonful, I'll go back for another. It can be tough, but it seems to be working so far!
  • Sam @ PancakeWarriors March 31, 2015, 9:54 am
    Great tips!! I agree 100% if you are going to have a spoonfull to put the rest back before indulging. So many times I've been surprise how it quickly becomes 2-3. Sam @ PancakeWarriors recently posted...Roasted PotatoesMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 11:52 am
      It can SO easily become 2 to 3... which is fine if you are REALLY hungry and it is what your body needs. But most of the time we are just fine with 1!
  • Jaime March 31, 2015, 10:24 am
    These are all such great tips! I really do my best to follow all these. My eyes are SO much bigger than my stomach so I do fill my plate full of stuff and then eat it all because it all just TASTES SO GOOD. This is why I'm fat, lol. My problem is lack of self-control. =) Jaime recently posted...Traveling With a Toddler: A Dramatic TimelineMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 11:56 am
      Self control and intuitive eating are NOT easy... they are things that many of us need to work really hard at. But you can do it! I'd definitely recommend trying the smaller plates/bowls strategy and then checking back in with your hunger cues once you clear the plate (if you feel hungry enough to). It also really helps to make sure that at least half of your plate/bowl is full of really healthy foods (veggies, etc.) so that even if you sometimes eat more than you are hungry for, you are at least eating food that is full of nutrients!
  • Leah M @ love me, feed me March 31, 2015, 11:16 am
    Lovely tips!! I've been having some issues with mindful snacking lately and snacks usually end up more like meals haha. I'm working on it though! The spoonful trick always helps me, especially with hummus because I could totally eat a whole tub in one go. Leah M @ love me, feed me recently posted...Lemon Berry Cake Parfait with Coconut SprinklesMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 3:30 pm
      I hear you! Hummus, nut butters, and guac are all very dangerous for me if I leave the container open! ;)
  • Tara | Treble in the Kitchen March 31, 2015, 12:25 pm
    Using smaller plates and dishes is my favorite tip :) Such great advice! Tara | Treble in the Kitchen recently posted...Quinoa Shrimp Risotto {low FODMAP}My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl March 31, 2015, 3:36 pm
      Thanks Tara! That is definitely one of my favorite tricks to follow. It's almost like fooling your brain into thinking you ate more than you did ;)
  • Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating March 31, 2015, 10:07 pm
    I am definitely entering that Pistachio facebook contest! I love pistachios, they're my favorite nut. My 2 biggest challenges with intuitive eating seem to be starting with smaller portions than I think I need (my eyes are bigger than my stomach...) and eating without distractions. I'm working on it though! Great tips!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl April 1, 2015, 9:30 am
      Yes for pistachios! I hope you win. That would be SO cool to have a year's supply! Eating without distractions is easily the most difficult thing for me to do. I almost feel unproductive if I am not doing something else during my meal time. It is something that I am trying really hard to work on!

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