Learn your emotional triggers, control your stress, get plenty of sleep … these are all helpful tips for living a healthier lifestyle. But when it comes to food cravings and mindless snacking, all that good advice seems to desert us. The next time you find yourself tempted to reach cookies and cream, keep these tips in mind.
Tips for Snacking Strategically
1. Drink plenty of water
Drinking water can act as a short-term appetite suppressant. If you’re trying not to snack in between meals, filling up on water is a great way to keep yourself full. You know you should be drinking more water anyway, so try this technique the next time your stomach is rumbling in a meeting or it’s 10:30 and you’re already in the mood for lunch. Staying well-hydrated is also crucial for keeping your body and brain running as it should. As a bonus, it may even aid in your weight-loss efforts if you drink a glass or two of water just before partaking in a meal.
2. Don’t bring junk food into the house
Bring a digital or physical list with you to the grocery store so that you can avoid impulse purchases. Tell yourself that anything that isn’t on the pre-determined list will not be purchased. That way, when you’re at home and are craving something specific, you’re only able to fall back on healthier snacks. Wishing for ice cream but only have salted cashews on-hand? Looks like cashews it is!
3. Stick to a snack plan
Once you’ve got your grocery-store game on point, figure out how to snack with a plan. For example, if you know you’re having dinner at 6:00, but are already hungry a few hours ahead of time, wait at least a half-hour before having a small snack to ensure that you’re not just bored. You should think of your snacks as small, healthy meals to avoid eating foods with empty calories. This is especially important if you’re engaging in a work-out routine and are burning extra calories—you shouldn’t completely deprive yourself of snacks—just make them healthier!
4. Consider your overall health goals
Learn to take a more thoughtful approach on how you want to shape your health goals for the next month, 6 months, and the year – would you completely derail your progress if you were to indulge? Probably not. However, it’s important to keep moderation in mind. Don’t let indulging in your favorite snack or cheat meal a few times a month allow you to lose sight of the vision you have for your health. If you can find structured ways to keep yourself on track (such as a food journal, weekly meal plans, a goal tracker, etc.), you won’t feel too guilty when you allow yourself a few occasional treats because you already have the tactics in place to achieve your health strategy.
5. Choose high-fiber or high-protein foods
Make sure you’re incorporating a variety of high-fiber and high-protein foods into your diet. When you’re able to keep yourself fuller for longer, you’ll be naturally less inclined to desire a snack. If you’re able to meal plan, figure out what you like the most and try to be as consistent with it for as long as possible. This should also help break the cycle of feeling like you need a snack for no reason. High fiber and high-protein foods such a sweet potato, avocado, legumes such as chickpeas, quinoa, eggs, lean proteins such as fish and chicken, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and nuts are great ways to get started. Look up new recipes with new spices if you’ve already started incorporating these foods but feel like you might be getting bored with them.© iStockphoto