Once upon a time a snack was a treat, an extra or a present. As a child I eagerly awaited the arrival of the 6.40pm bus on a Thursday which delivered Auntie Mary with her bag containing the Bunty comic and a small tube of smarties (“for my wee snack”). The conditions of use were that sweeties had be shared with my big sister and all adults offered one (they could choose their colour). As a rural living 8 year old this visit was the highlight of my week. 

Snacks appear in many forms and at any time of day. They are part of our foodscape at work, home and play. Apparently they provide calm, comfort and cheer. Snack eating is bound up with avoiding hunger, addressing appetite and daily pleasures. How mean to suggest that maybe we don’t need biscuits with tea or crisps later in the day or a bit of chocolate to perk us up.

Snacks like biscuits, cakes, pastries, confectionary, crisps and sugary drinks contribute around a fifth of the calories and fat we eat and almost half the sugar

Almost impossible to imagine snack intake disappearing completely but it is possible to imagine snack intake dropping dramatically – one snack at a time. We know that being active can also provide calm, comfort and cheer so for July we are inviting everyone to #sackthesnack and swop in your favourite stretch, 200 step walk or exercise as an alternative.

In our ActWEll study we are using a Behavioural Change Technique called Implementation Intention where we ask people to decide what they want to do/change and visualise how they will do this, when they will do this how will they overcome any difficulties (e.g time limits). Ten years ago I used this approach to give up my late morning food munchies and make myself “last out” till lunch. Interestingly, my appetite subsided (especially if I could leave my desk and walk round to speak to colleagues) and didn’t return to much later in the day when lunch appeared. It took effort but saved me consuming 150 extra calories per day 5 days a week … (750 calories per week, 3000 calories per month). I also added to my daily step count. Now, we have our #kettlecise poster* at the tea station … so we can do some stretches instead of reaching for the snacks and that gnawing hunger feeling can be easily controlled.

Will you take the challenge … one snack at a time and #sackthesnack ? Give it a try with SCPN this month, we have ideas to inspire and encourage on our Instagram and Twitter accounts @thescpn

*Free posters available – contact us  scpn@cancerpreventionscotland.org.uk

Annie S. Anderson 

Images: Unsplash