To snack or not to snack, that is the question! I love to snack, as do a lot of people. An otherwise healthy diet can be completely derailed by making poor food choices between meals. My husband is not much of a snacker and I envy him for that. The reason I snack is because I have always snacked. My parents bought snacks and I ate them. I even once went through what I call my “Twinkie phase”, which was about a one-month period during my junior high years where I ate a package of Twinkies every day. My husband on the other hand very rarely snacked as a child. His parents didn’t buy snacks, but he was spoiled when he went to visit his grandmother a few times a year. He had occasional treats instead of every day snacks.
I don’t think I have very good snacking habits, but I don’t want to give up snacking so I need to change how I snack. I love sweets and since I have cut a lot of processed food out of my diet, I am now craving salty snacks as well. Not only do I need to change how I snack but when I snack. I have noticed I snack when I’m not even hungry!
Here are the changes I have made to improve my snacking habits:
- Eat a bigger breakfast. This makes it so I am less likely to snack before lunch. I usually eat Greek yogurt, whole grain cereal, toast, or oatmeal. This usually keeps me full until lunch.
- Snack on healthy, filling foods. After lunch – usually by 4 pm I start to get a little hungry, so I switched to snacking on grapes, cheese, and or nuts for my afternoon snack. Grapes and other fruit can satisfy my need for something sweet, and cheese and nuts can satisfy my need for something salty.
- Drink water or tea throughout the day. Drinking a lot of fluids is great for you in a number of ways, one of which is that it makes you feel more full and less likely to eat. Sometimes, I will even have a cup of tea instead of eating.
- Plan and pre-pack snacks. I plan my meals ahead of time so I can better control what I eat, why not do the same with snacks? This way I know what I am going to be eating. Planning ahead may keep me from grabbing an unhealthy snack on the spur of the moment. Pre-packing snacks also helps control the portion size, and makes me less likely to grab an extra handful of food.
- Control the portion size of less healthy snacks. Sometimes I want an unhealthy snack – and that’s OK. When I have a less-than-healthy snack, I make sure that I control the portion size. I have a sweet tooth and chocolate is a huge weakness for me. Reese’s cups are my favorite, but I have accepted the fact I cannot eat them like I did when I was 15 and had the best metabolism! So an hour or so after dinner I will have one piece of chocolate. I try to get a good dark chocolate and eat just one piece and it satisfies my chocolate cravings. I have learned I don’t need to eat a whole candy bar to satisfy the chocolate monster inside me.
Using these methods, I am able to satisfy my desire to snack – but also prevent myself from falling off the wagon and spoiling my diet by making poor food choices between meals.