We all know the feeling: dinner is a few hours away but your tummy has already started to rumble. It’s time for a pre-dinner snack. But if you’re working hard to lose weight, snacking can make or break your healthy eating plan.
At its best, snacking can keep your energy levels high, your blood sugar stable, and prevent overeating because of excessive hunger during normal meal times. At its worst, snacking can result in eating too many calories from low-nutrient convenience foods, and ruin your appetite for your healthy dinner.
It is possible to enjoy snacks while sticking to your healthy eating plan and still lose weight. You just need to snack mindfully and follow a few healthy snacking guidelines.
Keep reading to learn 5 tips for mindful snacking:
Tune into Your Hunger
Are you actually hungry, or do you just feel like it’s time for a snack? It’s important to remember that snacks exist to satiate hunger between meals. If you’re not hungry, you can wait until your next meal to eat. It’s very common to snack when you’re bored, stressed, or sad. If you find yourself struggling with emotional eating, take a deep breath and wait out the craving. You can distract yourself by taking part in a hobby, going for a walk, or talking to a friend or family member.
Have healthy snacks on hand when you start to feel hungry between meals. When you’re hungry, it’s harder to resist the temptation of salty or sweet convenience foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Keep your fridge stocked with fruits, sliced vegetables, reduced-fat dip, and low-sugar yoghurt. Pantry favourites like whole grain crackers and low-fat popcorn are healthy snack choices. Remember to keep a snack in your bag when you go out, so you don’t feel tempted to stop at a fast food restaurant.
Enjoy Your Snack
It’s important to be mindful when you’re eating a snack or a meal! Don’t distract yourself while eating by sitting in front of your television or computer, or eating while you work. Stop what you’re doing and savour each bite. Take small bites and chew thoroughly, and really enjoy the taste of what you’re eating. Being distracted while snacking can lead to overeating, as reaching for the next bite will become a habit and you won’t recognize when you’re full.
Eat Balanced Snacks
Balancing protein, carbohydrates, and fat will help you feel satiated and resist the urge to overeat by keeping your blood sugar balanced and your stomach full for longer. Carbohydrate snacks alone won’t keep you satiated for long – you need to add some protein and fat in there to give your body the sustained energy it needs. Balanced snacks examples include an apple with nut butter; whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese; and hummus with veggie slices and a few whole grain crackers.
Watch Your Portions
Avoid snacking right out of the box or bag. Read the nutrition label to see what a single-serving portion size is, and put that amount on a plate. It’s easy to underestimate the amount you’re eating when you’re snacking out of the packaging – you could accidentally consume five portions of your favourite snack instead of only one! Portioning your snacks out on a plate will also help you learn what a single-serving looks like, so you will eventually be able to eyeball it instead of carefully measuring it out.
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