5 Tips for Smarter Snacking

 Image via: earthsky.org

Image via: earthsky.org

Our excessive snacking habits can easily lead to unwanted weight gain over time. While snacks are great for staving off hunger in between meals, for most of us, snacking can quickly become addictive and lead to overeating — especially when we’re not remotely hungry. But don’t worry!

Try these 5 tips to keep your snacking “hunger-centric” rather than out of habit or boredom.

1. Make Each Snack A ‘Mini Meal’ 

That doesn’t mean you should eat more. That means you should treat your snacks with the same reverence as you would treat a good homemade meal. Think along the lines of the classic Seinfeld episode where everyone starts eating their Snickers bars with forks and knives. Sit down at the table, plate your food, and let the flavors dance along your palate. By sitting down and really enjoying your little platter of carrots and hummus, you’ll feel more content and be less likely to hit up the junk food in the vending machines.

2. Drink Water First

Oftentimes, we can confuse thirst signals for hunger signals. Try drinking a big glass of water and waiting a few minutes before snacking. It could save you a lot of excess calories in the long run.    

3. Stop Buying Your ‘Binge’ Foods 

This is for all those foods that “once you pop, you just can’t stop.” It doesn’t matter if they’re double-stuffed Oreos, cheesy tortillas chips, jars of organic almond butter, or something in between. If they’re in the house, you’ll eat them. So, stop buying them. It places unnecessary pressure on yourself and your willpower, and makes it much harder to choose a healthy, portion-controlled snack when your favorite gluttonous treat is lurking just within your cabinet. Sure, you say you’ll have just one small cookie with lunch — and soon a third of the carton is gone. Generally, anything you obsessively love eating should stay out except for on special occasions. That way, making healthy choices will be easier.

4. Go 80-20

Going off the rails once in a while doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, incorporating treats into your lifestyle can help you avoid binge eating when a craving strikes. If you’ve a hankering for some chocolate, nibble away at a decent square of the darkest chocolate you can palate, and enjoy. Overdo it on the appetizers at a party? Don’t stress. Stress only worsens everything. Accept yourself, your flaws, and know that life goes on. After all, you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying yourself and your food once in a while. Live your life with mindfulness, not regret.

5. Distract Your Cravings

While indulging is good on occasion, doing so too often can mean you’re eating on an emotional level. If you find yourself eating out of anger, sadness, happiness, boredom depression, or for entertainment, you may need to develop an arsenal of ways to distract yourself to prevent from over-snacking. Try drinking some herbal tea, going to a quick jog, or brushing your teeth to distract yourself from obsessive food thoughts. And remember, the food will still be there when you get hungry — so try to be patient and productive in the meantime.

We all need a snack sometimes. But the choices we make day after day can have a huge impact on our health. If you are hungry and need a snack, opt for something with healthy fats and protein. Some of my favorites are coconut milk chia pudding, carrots and nut butter, and hard-boiled eggs. 

What are your favorite healthy choice snacks? Share in the comments below!