A Minimalist approach to snacking.
When I used to work in an office, one of my coworkers would regularly bring in a large jar of dry roasted peanuts. He used to leave the dry roasted peanuts in a few different spots around the office.
Several times a day he would walk by and grab a handful of peanuts from the jar. He would also gesture at people, with the jar and say “nuts” ? I would usually answer yep, then, keep on walking. Other times, I would grab a handful en-route to a meeting.
I always wondered why he didn’t just leave the nuts in his office. Later, I realized my coworker had a snacking strategy. By leaving snacks in a location outside of his office, he had established a routine whereby he needed to get up and walk to get to the snack.
It also gave him a chance to take a break and socialize a bit. If the nuts had stayed at his desk, they would be gone quicker, even if you factor in the occasional sharing, which really dropped off during cold and flu season.
I’ve often thought about how I can limit my snacking. At a football or baseball game, I’ve been known to go through a large bag of roasted peanuts along with the other requisite beverages. This is simply because at the game the bag of peanuts is in my lap and there’s nowhere else to put it. Sharing helps, but not much.
So, with this in mind, I set out to limit my snacking at home. I’ve come up with a simple method of portion control that works well while I’m at my desk, reading or watching TV.
Here are the core elements of my snack plan:
- Choose a snack that you can eat one or two at a time. Think mixed nuts, goldfish, mini pepperonis.
- Put these snacks in a very small container ¼ cup. I like the stainless steel sauce cups pictured above.
- Skip the sauce, just put in the snack. Anything that requires dipping is probably bad news.
- Fill the small cup up and take it with you, leaving any containers or large bowls behind.
- Eat the snacks slowly, one of the time, avoiding handfuls.
- When possible always have a glass of ice water nearby. The ice water is a distraction from the snacks, so you’ll often find yourself having sip of ice water instead of more nuts.
- When the small cup is empty, you’re done. Your goal is to have that small cup last as long as possible. Just think of it as endurance.
This really works for me. I get to enjoy snacks, I just need to think about it a little bit more and make it last.
In Spain and Italy, I noticed these small cups in cafes and restaurants. Sometimes they were filled with olives, nuts or small bread sticks.
So, for a meal, instead of ordering a plate of appetizers like chicken wings or mozzarella sticks, folks just whet their appetites with a small portion to go along with their wine or beer. For a table, they might order antipasto, which included meats and several cups of olives, for the table.
This is definitely not rocket science, it’s not even dieting. It’s just figuring out some interesting ways to make less equal more.