Recently over at Body of Knowledge Weekly, a smart woman* observed this:
"I noticed that not keeping a lot of ready-to-eat snacks around greatly reduces the incidence of snacking."
Science has been studying the same thing for quite a while. Observations like these form about half of Traci Mann's very good book "Secrets from the Eating Lab." But there's nothing like making your own observations to convince you of scientific fact, is there?
The first half of Traci's book rounds up all the evidence you should ever need to convince you that restrictive dieting is a pretty bad idea for people who want to lose weight.
The second half gives strategies for keeping your weight on the low side of where your body naturally wants to be. Meaning: These strategies are VERY different from the typical diet dance moves, which could be boiled down to "Eat EVEN LESS than you would need to maintain a body of your ideal-and-unlikely proportions and keep doing that far longer than your body can tolerate." <<< Nope! None of that.
It's stuff more along the lines of the above, like: Do you want to snack less? Do you want to break the habit of grazing? If so, try getting snacks out of the way. Or replacing the concentrated industrial snacks with something that comes in a peel, not a packet.
This kind of intervention doesn't mean forbidding anything. You could have a chunky Kit-Kat anytime! Anytime you want to walk to the store, that is. The point is not to make it impossible to have a Kit-Kat. The point is to make it impossible to have a few Kit-Kats unwrapped and eaten so fast that you never really noticed yourself having them.
Managing our environment is not the same as managing our roommates, or making demands like those people who will veto 99% of the restaurant choices because they "can't" eat something (so neither "can" you).
It just means setting things up to work for you, based on observation about what's 1. currently NOT working and 2. under your control.
And those are the places where incredibly simple mechanical interventions like "not having a lot of snacks at the ready" or making a few days' worth of hard-boiled eggs (if you like that sort of thing) beat all the willpower and good intentions and mindfulness practice in the world.
*They're all smart, as you would expect.
Image: Doll’s house kitchen with 45 miniatures, anonymous, c. 1845, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.
From the Rijksmuseum entry: "In the mid-19th century a collector of miniature silver had this wooden doll’s house kitchen made to provide a natural setting for his collection of 18th-century miniature domestic silver. That the miniatures were not made for this cabinet is clear from their scale: the brushes, for example, are much bigger than the linen press, whereas in real life they would have been considerably smaller."