Learning to Snack Smart
With any good healthy eating plan, snacking can throw off your best efforts. You can have the healthiest meals planned out, there is a long gap between lunch to dinner. If you don’t have a plan, and instead buy something from the counter to tide you over, be sure you aren’t eating something that will sabotage you. Here are 4 tips to help you snack smarter:
1. Satisfy Your Cravings
Always have a snack alternative prepared for every type of craving. For example:
- For salty and crunchy eat a handful of nuts instead of a bag of chips.
- For a sweet tooth, grab an apple or banana rather than a pack of candy.
- For creamy rich chocolate, try a tablespoon of avocado-chocolate ganache.
- For fast energy on a long walk, pack two frozen energy bites in a bag.
- For a cup of double-double coffee with cream and sugar, have a cup of hot herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey.
- If the craving feels very intense, have a glass of water first because it might actually be thirst.
Substituting a healthy choice for your hot, cold, crunchy, and creamy cravings will keep you feeling full and satisfied without out all the guilt.
2. Eat Smaller Meals
If you feel like you have to snack quite a few times a day and just can’t wait for your main meals, split your three large meals up into six smaller ones. This will keep you feeling full all day while giving your body time to properly digest a smaller amount of food. Eating this way may also encourage you to plan out healthier meals rather than grabbing something quick between meals that may not be as good for you.
3. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can make you feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty. It’s a common enough issue that it’s listed here twice. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day to prevent these cravings. Caffeine and drinks with artificial sweeteners can sometimes cause you to feel hungrier, so stick to plain water and non-caffeinated herbal teas.
If you love lemon in your water, be careful of how it can affect your teeth. You can read more about the effects of lemon in your water here »
4. Avoid Snacking in Front of the TV or Computer
Either completely cut out the snack sessions while watching television or surfing the web, or switch to something that isn’t loaded with calories. Plain popcorn without the extra butter, sunflower seeds, or a bowl of grapes are all healthier options than a bag of chips or pretzels. They will still take quiet awhile to eat and can capture the texture that you’re craving – crunchy, salty, sweet…
You don’t have to give up your afternoon snack times in order to practice healthy eating habits, just choose your snacks more wisely. Picking the lower calorie or lower fat varieties of your favourite snack can be the first step in eating healthier. Swapping a different type of food altogether, cutting down on how much you eat as a snack, or eliminating a snack after dinner can be your next step. Start off slowly and gradually switch to healthier foods – letting your body adapt to the change – will result in long term success.