Maybe you’re a pro at planning balanced meals, but things go awry during the hours in between. Excess snacking can put you over your daily calorie requirements and fill you up with sugar and other ingredients you’re trying to avoid.
Lose weight and protect your health by changing the way you snack. Check out this list for ideas about how to snack less between meals and make smarter choices.
How to Snack Less Between Meals
- Be mindful. Are you surprised to find you’ve eaten half a cake when you really meant to have one slice? You’ll probably be satisfied with less food if you pay attention to each bite. Turn off the TV and chew slowly.
- Leave the table. It’s difficult to tell when dinner ends and snacking starts if you sit around nibbling leftovers on the kids’ plates. Clear the table and go for a walk.
- Have a hearty breakfast. Late night snacking could be a sign that you didn’t take in enough calories earlier in the day. Start with a nutritious breakfast that has enough nutrients to keep you feeling full.
- Drink up. Thirst and hunger are often confused. The next time you want to snack between meals, drink a glass of water to see if the craving goes away.
- Sleep well. Chronic fatigue can also make you want to eat, and when you do eat you’re more likely to make poor choices. Go to bed on time and take a nap if you need to catch up on your sleep.
- Chew gum. Sugar-free gum is an ideal snack. Satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy chewing without consuming any calories. Gum even helps to clean up bacteria in your mouth in between brushing and flossing.
- Keep a log. You may be snacking more than you think. Use your phone or a notebook to track what’s really going on.
- Identify trigger foods. Many of us have certain foods that lower our inhibitions and make it hard to stop eating once we start. Limit the availability of these foods in your home, and keep them for special occasions.
- Manage stress. Are you eating to cover up difficult emotions? This can be a tough one to manage, but identifying it is the first step. Notice when the cravings happen by keeping a note of them – and when you find a pattern in when you crave a snack you stand a much better chance of stopping.
How to Snack Healthier
- Reach for vegetables and fruits. Full of micronutrients and low on calories, these foods can aid digestion as they’re full of fibre. Recommended daily intake ranges from 5 a day to as much as 8 portions, but just including one more than you’re on now could be a great start. Use snacks to help you reach your target.
- Control portions. Most adults can indulge in any favourite treat as long as they keep the serving size reasonable. Learn to estimate by sight what serving sizes should be by using a measuring system for a little while.
- Create substitutes. This is recommended by one of the ladies that comes to the diet & nutrition class at the gym. She allows herself snacks that she’s baked at home herself – leveraging any laziness to her advantage!
- Stock up. Fill your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets with nutrient-dense foods you love. Remove the barriers to healthy snacking by prepping fruit, or vegetables and leaving them pre-chopped and visible.
- Don’t watch adverts. Advertising tends to promote ultra-processed foods high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Psychologists call these “hyperpalatable foods” and they are commonly overeaten – it’s not your fault, and you’re certainly not the only one!
- Plan ahead. Vending machines and office staff rooms are full of foods that can derail your diet. Carry your own snacks or keep them in your desk at work. Pressure from colleagues can be a tough one to avoid, but this is one to work at mastering. Here’s a guide to meal prepping that can help.
Make your snacks work for you, keeping you full between meals and fuelling up your body. Watch your calories and eat nutrient-dense foods that don’t derail your fitness goals.