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control-snackingHealthy Snacking vs. Guilty Grazing

Winter may be on the way, but insulation tends to work better in your walls than on your waist. If you're trying to watch your figure, or just aim for a healthier lifestyle, consider how you might control snacking to achieve your goals. Mindful snacking takes some planning, but can help you feel more satisfied and less guilty at the end of the day. Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate the snacking field and come out on top.

Techniques for Smart Snacking

Every successful sports coach knows that you need more than just good intentions to win the day; it takes constant evaluation and a solid gameplan. Prepare yourself for snacking success early. Take the next few days to chart your habits: when do you start feeling hungry? When you snack: what do you eat, when and how much? How do you feel afterward - satisfied or guilty and still hungry? When you've done that, you're ready to tackle your day informed and form healthy habits to last a lifetime.

  • Start the day with a filling breakfast. Drop that sugary donut! The sugar crash you'll feel in an hour will just make you want to eat more. Aim for whole grains without too much added sugar in your cereal or oatmeal. Foods high in fiber and protein will leave you feeling satisfied for hours and help stave off the munchies. So try some whole wheat toast and an egg or some greek yogurt. 
  • Excessive snacking often happens when you put off snacking too long and get overly hungry. So plan to snack at an appropriate time - around 10:30 am and 3:30 pm are good bridges between your meals. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you that it's time to snack.
  • Plan your snacks ahead of time and portion out sensible snack sized portions. Don't take a big bag of trail mix or a tub of hummus, use small zipping bags or plastic containers to get the day's snacks ready.

Healthy Snack Choices

When you get that cheerful ding reminding you that it's snack time, what will you be enjoying? Packing some of these smart snacks can give you a boost to your day and productivity instead of a hit to your self esteem.

  • Snacks high in protein will satisfy you longer. Try packing some almonds, or lightly-salted soy nuts--these have healthy fats, and the crunch will help replace the craving for potato chips. A hardboiled egg is another quick healthy snack packed with protein. 
  • Hummus is easy to make, filling, healthy and versatile. It pairs well with veggie sticks, pita chips or simple whole wheat bread. 
  • Learn to substitute more healthy snack alternatives into your day. If you must have your chocolate (you're not alone) aim for dark chocolate which is naturally lower in fat and actually has some beneficial qualities (when consumed in reasonable amounts). Go for baked potato chips versus full fat. Kick out those "contains real fruit juice" fruit snacks, and just eat some real fruit! Avoid sodas and choose water instead so you don't drink all your calories. 

Finally, learn to vary your routine. From the charting preparation work, you've learned your snacking habits. If you really desire to control snacking you'll need to change it up a bit. 

  • Water is your best craving kicker because it is easy to confuse thirst for hunger. When you feel the urge to indulge, have a large glass of water first and then wait 10 minutes before snacking; often people will go through snack after snack when what their body really needs is hydration.
  • When you want to snack but don't really need to, take a walk (with your water bottle) around the block, stretch, call a friend, or do the dishes. A little distraction can work wonders in winning the snack battle.
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