It’s 3 p.m. Lunch was hours ago and dinner is far off in the horizon. And right about now that bowl of candy in the break room is looking pretty darn appetizing. What do you do?
This scenario is the bane of every dieter’s existence. Traditional wisdom tells us that snacking (often used interchangeably with the term “grazing”) is bad for us and will thwart even the most well intentioned weight loss plans.
Well the good news is this: snacks are not the enemy! In fact, with the right strategies you can have an eating plan that includes snacks that help you eat less over the course of a day. Here’s how.
Tip #1: Is it thirst?
The human mind often mistakes hunger for thirst. When a craving hits, try drinking a glass of water first then waiting about 5-10 minutes. And be sure to get enough water in general. Hydrated bodies burn fat more effectively! Most people need at least 6 -8 glasses of water a day.
Tip #2: Chews wisely…
If you are, indeed, hungry go for a snack that has a good balance of protein, fat and fiber for maximum satiety power. A small apple with a serving of peanut butter or a yogurt with a sprinkling of high fiber cereal work well. Protein and fiber work together to make you feel satisfied until your next meal.
Tip #3: Give the best snacks the prime real estate
Grocery stores do it, so can you! Put the best choices at eye level in your cabinets with other treats (which you can still have in moderation) at the very top or bottom of your pantry.That way when you scan your cabinets for a quick snack, you’re more likely to grab the better option! Bonus tip: Find you just can’t control yourself around the tortilla chips? Your best bet is not to buy them. You can overindulge in what you don’t have!
Tip #4: Don’t overdo it!
The purpose of a snack is to tide you over until your next meal. But for so many of us the snack ends up being the size and caloric value of a meal-and not a healthy one either. Choose your snack wisely and measure the appropriate portion size.
It takes a few minutes for the brain to get the signal from your stomach that you’re satisfied so after you’re finished your snack, take a walk or chat with a co-worker.
Tip #5: Tempted to go back for more? Try this!
Keep a pack of sugar-free gum handy. Gum has been shown to decrease snack cravings. A gum with strong mint taste also helps distract your tongue. You won’t want those salty chips with the taste of mint in your mouth.
In addition to these tips, try writing down what you eat everyday. There are plenty of internet food journals but all you really need is a pencil and a piece of paper. One study found that people who didn’t keep food journals ate twice as much as those who did! In addition, writing down what and when you eat helps you see patterns.
If you know you get a snack attack in the late evening, you can build a strategy that keeps you out of the ice cream carton and on the pathway to your goals!