Life & Beauty Weekly: Health
By Elizabeth Hurchalla for Life & Beauty Weekly
Here’s the good news: snacking isn’t inherently unhealthy, and you don’t have to stop snacking altogether. In fact, if you snack on the right foods and follow a few simple guidelines, munching between meals not only helps you stay on your diet, but it may help you maintain or even lose weight too.
The problem, of course, is that for many people, a snack means, well, “snack foods” — chips, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and other processed, high-calorie goodies. Snacking also becomes a weighty problem when you choose foods with little or no nutritional value, because they don’t fill you up, meaning you’re more likely to eat — and overeat — between meals and at mealtimes, says Tosca Reno, wellness consultant and author of the bestselling Eat-Clean Dietseries.
Check out these tricks to stop snacking on all the wrong stuff and start making smarter, healthier choices.
1. Sit down with a plate.
It’s common to graze when you prepare meals or even walk through the kitchen. From now on, promise yourself that you’ll put every morsel on a plate and sit down before eating it. By making this simple commitment, “it puts you into the mindset that mealtimes are an event and that food is something to be tasted, savoured and enjoyed. You become more mindful about what you’re putting in your mouth and when you feel full,” Reno says.
2. Make snacking unsavoury.
When a craving strikes, temporarily trick your taste buds by brushing and flossing your teeth. Nothing tastes good when your mouth is fresh and minty. Likewise, scented body lotion may turn you off of the idea of eating for the time being.
3. Never skip meals.
According to a survey by the Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition, which produces the Tracking Nutrition Trends, about four in 10 people skip either breakfast or lunch. But skipping meals is a mistake: it makes you ravenous, especially for high-fat, high-sugar snacks. “When you skip meals, your blood-sugar levels become unstable, which causes your energy to dip and your mood to plummet. It also causes your metabolism to slow down, making weight loss more difficult,” says Reno.
4. Choose substantial snacks.
Having a snack can stop you from getting too hungry and overindulging at mealtimes. But it only works if you eat both lean protein and complex carbohydrates in the right portions, says Reno. The secret: pairing foods that contain fibre-rich carbs with high-protein picks. The duo keeps blood sugar levels steady and you feeling full. Try a pear with low-fat cheese, an apple with peanut butter, yogurt with low-fat granola or whole-wheat pita bread with hummus. Whatever you eat, aim to get about 100 to 250 calories.
5. Buy healthy, portable foods.
Processed, fattening snacks are often conveniently packaged, making them an easy go-to when you get hungry. But if you stock your fridge (or handbag) with similarly convenient good-for-you snacks, you’re more likely to munch healthy. Think about grab-and-go fruits, veggies and other fare while you’re shopping. Instead of buying pineapple that needs to be peeled, cored and cut, for example, stock up on bananas. Or, in lieu of carrots you need to clean, peel, cut and bag, pay a little extra for baby carrots. Other options: almonds, grapes, apples, high-fibre granola bars, and individually wrapped low-fat string cheese.
6. Get more sleep.
Sweets and refined carbs give you a quick boost of energy, which means craving these types of foods could be your body’s way of saying it needs more energy. Try hitting the sack a little earlier or finding a way to push back the alarm clock instead of chasing a temporary fix. By getting more z’s, you won’t be as tempted to down sugary snacks for immediate energy, says Reno.
7. Ask yourself what you really need.
When a snack attack strikes, Reno suggests you try drinking a big glass of water. “We often confuse hunger for thirst,” she says. “Next time, listen to your body’s signals.” Sometimes you just need a break. If you can, stop working, and check Facebook or take a walk. If you need to de-stress, take a shower or call a friend. You may find that what you’re really craving is comfort, not comfort food.
is a Venice, Calif.-based freelance writer who has contributed to
InStyle and many other publications.