Drop it - breaking habits

Most of us enjoy things like chocolate bars, sweets and crisps every now and again – but there’s a difference between an occasional treat and a snack habit. It could be sweets on long drives, crisps at your desk, or sugary drinks at the cinema. Perhaps it’s irresistible offers on chocolate at the checkout, or comfort eating when you’re stressed.

Common pitfalls include:

For grown-ups and kids:

  • Using snacks to alleviate boredom when you’re not actually hungry
  • Having food within reach leading to unplanned/uncontrolled snacking - snacking when you’re actually thirsty, not hungry
  • Not eating regular and balanced meals, which could make you more likely to snack
  • Sometimes snacking or eating without realising what you are doing!

Especially for grown-ups:

  • Not sticking to your list and buying too many snacks when out shopping
  • Going to the supermarket when you’re hungry, making cravings hard to resist!

There’s lots of ways to cut down on snacking, have a look below for an option that suits you and your family

1. Track the snacks

Overweight or obese This is a great solution for frequent snackers who might find giving up snacks completely a bit overwhelming. Write down what you and your family snacks on over the week and work out when and why you’re all snacking. A wall chart is a good way to do this. To start off with, try dropping just one of your regular snacks or sugary drinks. You might be surprised at how much more of your healthy dinner your family eats!


2. Make a shopping list

Before you do your weekly shop, why not make and take along a list? Your list should help guide you to only the aisles you need (and help avoid those with snacky foods!) Habit of forgetting lists? You could try online shopping to avoid temptation! 

3.Out of sight, out of mind

You might find you snack less if you can’t see things to snack on. That’s why checkout chocolate is so tempting – you didn’t want it until you saw it! Keep crisps and biscuits in the cupboard, or even better, don’t buy them at all. Keep healthy snacks, like fruit, within reach instead.

4. Do something different

A lot of the time when we snack, we’re bored rather than hungry. When cravings hit, try to distract yourself – ideally with something that keeps your hands busy! Have a look at our ideas for both grown-ups and kids below: 

5. Drink water

A lot of the time when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Keep a bottle of water handy at your desk or by the sofa – taking a sip now and then can often satisfy you as well as any snack.

6. Habits and associations

Sometimes we associate different activities with certain snacks, making these treats particularly hard to give up – for example biscuits with your morning coffee or tea. If this is the type of habit you think you’ll find the most difficult to shake, then an idea might be to start limiting it to just certain days of the week. Have fun with it - why not involve those around you to join you in a Treat-Free Tuesday or Snack-Less Saturday challenge?

7. Treats for kids

It’s hard, we often want to reward our kids for doing something well or for being helpful or kind, and less healthy snacks and treats seem to be the easiest option. Often the best way to reward your child is simply by giving them your time and attention. Head to ‘Swap it’ - treats and rewards for some practical ideas on how you can show your child how proud you are of them.