How to Snack Smarter
Snacking has become a normal part of American culture. In fact, it's estimated that Americans consume nearly one-quarter of their daily caloric intake from snacks. Why do you snack in the first place? Whether it's part of your daily routine, you're craving something sweet or salty, or you need something to hold you over until your next meal, it's important to recognize why you're reaching for that extra bite. For more healthy snacking, nutritionists recommend that people ignore routine and snack only when they feel hungry.
Learn how to snack smarter and healthier with these four tips:
- Avoid snacking while multitasking
Snacking while watching TV or working may seem harmless, but it could be doing more damage than you realize. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when you are distracted, you tend to eat more. The same study also found that being aware of what you're consuming is linked to eating less later in the day.
Mindful snacking will also help you realize when you're full. If you're paying attention to your eating and are eating slower, your body will have time to tell you that you're full. It generally takes your body 20 minutes to realize it's full. If you're distracted, you can eat significantly more than you need in 20 minutes.
- Prep and plan ahead
The key to healthy snacking is to prep and plan. Next time you run to the grocery store, stock up on your favorite healthy snacks. Having something on hand that you like and is also good for you will help you avoid the temptations of less healthy snacks. Are you always on the go? Take snacks with you when you leave the house. By having something nutritious in your bag, you'll easily be able to resist the vending machine or a pastry from your local coffee shop. If you need some healthy ideas, check out these five snacks you should always have in your bag.
- Allow yourself to indulge in smaller treats
Healthy snacking doesn't mean you have to give up every sweet or salty snack you love. Instead, learn to eat unhealthy snacks in moderation. By allowing yourself to munch on a little of what you love, you'll be more likely to stick to a healthier diet overall. Overly strict food plans have been proven to lead to quicker dieting burnouts. As a rule of thumb, allow yourself two small cheat snacks a week. If you don't trust yourself to only eat one slice of cake or a few potato chips, try buying a single serving of whatever your weakness may be.
- Learn how to control your cravings
Another way to encourage healthy snacking is to learn how to control your cravings. One way to curb cravings is to drink more water. People often mistake thirst for hunger. Next time you reach for a snack, try drinking a glass of water instead. You may be surprised that your hunger quickly fades. It's also important to make sure you're getting enough sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to overeating and increases junk food cravings.