If you’ve been a victim to the mid-morning hunger pains or afternoon cravings, then you’ve probably relied on snacking to get you through them. While healthy snacks can be incorporated into your diet to keep you satiated, many of us find ourselves snacking on foods that are full of calories rather than nutritional benefits.
Whether it’s a bag of chips and candy from the vending machine, or a box of cookies that someone brought into the office, the urge to indulge in unhealthy snacks can assault you every day in almost every kind of scenario.
Snacking Done Right
Snacking, when done right, can actually be a healthy way to keep your body’s blood sugar levels stabilized and prevent binge-eating at your next meal. The key point, however, is that the snacking needs to be limited to healthy foods and certain times of the day rather than constant snacking all day long.
To curb any urges you may feel to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day, try the following tips:
Plan your meal times out
Instead of just eating lunch or dinner whenever time allows for it, for example, plan your meal times out for each day. Come up with a consistent time each morning, afternoon, and evening for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner to occur.
It’s been found that eating every three to four hours can help you stabilize your blood sugar levels. This is why many nutritionists may not advise against eating a snack, especially if it’s late in the afternoon, between breakfast and dinner.
Your Snack Should Be Treated Like a Meal
Most of us stand up or sit at a computer when we’re snacking. We may dig into a bag of chips as we talk or work, and pay no attention to the food we’re eating and how much of it we’re eating.
This is a really easy way to overeat and indulge in excess calories. Instead, plan out a wholesome snack that can be thought of like a mini meal, then sit down and eat your food as you would breakfast, lunch, and dinner (thoughtfully and mindfully).
Don’t Go Overboard on the Calories
While you want your snack to feel satiating, you don’t want to go too overboard on the calories you’re consuming during snack time. Your snack shouldn’t necessarily be the same size as your lunch or dinner.
If you’re trying to lose weight, your nutritionist may advise you to consume around 200 calories or less during snack time. If you’re not trying to lose weight, you may allow about 300 to 400 calories for your snack.
Eat Snacks with Proper Nutrients
While your bag of baked chips may be less than 200 calories, that doesn’t mean the chips are the kind of snack you want to be eating. The whole point of eating a snack is to fight off hunger and keep you from overeating at your next meal.
To pick a healthy snack, make sure your snack is not only within your calorie limit, but that it offers a dose of protein, healthy fat, and carbs. Greek yogurt with fresh berries and walnuts is the perfect example of a balanced snack.
Find a Distraction
For some, the urge to snack happens late in the evening. You might be watching tv and find yourself standing at the pantry during commercials. If this sounds familiar, the best thing you can do to stop the snacking is to distract yourself with other activities.
You can paint your nails, play an app on your phone, or even brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth can be an effective deterrent from snacking since you’re unlikely to want to brush your teeth a second time. Plus, the flavor of mint in your mouth from your toothpaste will probably ward off the urge to snack on anything sweet or salty.
Don’t Keep Snacks in the House
If you find the temptation to snack too overwhelming, then it may just be best to rid your pantry and fridge of snacks. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”
If you’re struggling to stay away from snacks at work, avoid visiting the break room where the snacks may be, or bring your own healthy alternatives so that you don’t find yourself hungry and left with unhealthy options.