If you are like me, you know how easy it is to mindlessly finish off an entire bag of chips or candy while watching TV. Poor snacking habits (e.g. eating processed foods, sugary snacks, over consuming or eating at the wrong times) were one of the reasons why I gained over 50 pounds of weight during my early 20’s. Now, as an experienced Naturopathic Physician who has helped hundreds of patients become healthier, I wish I can say that I have these cravings under control. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
I believe that well-planned snacks are as important as balanced meals. Here are some smart snacking strategies that I use to control my cravings and limit my urges:
Establish boundaries around snacks:
Step 1: Drink 2 cups of water and wait 10 minutes. Our brains often confuse thirst with hunger. After drinking 2 cups of water, 9 times out of 10, my craving will go away.
Step 2: If you’re still wanting to munch on a snack, consume a piece of fruit and wait another 10 minutes. Often ½ an apple with some almond butter does the trick for me.
Step 3: If after drinking water and having some fruit you are still having a strong craving for something sweet, allow yourself a small square of dark chocolate. That’s it.
Choose snacks that are high in protein
Protein and fats help to keep you feeling full for longer periods and stabilizes blood sugar. Examples of snacks that contain protein: hard boiled eggs, almonds or pumpkin seeds, tuna salad on celery sticks, hummus with veggies, chia seed pudding.
The Environment matters
When the environment is full of visual cues pointing us to unhealthy options, we tend to gravitate towards them. On the other hand, when the environment is full of healthy options, there is a greater chance that we will choose them instead. Here are some ideas that I have adopted at home:
Our water filter system sits in plain view in our kitchen. It is easily accessible and is a reminder to drink water every time I walk into the kitchen.
No unhealthy snacks on the counter. They are either tossed out or hidden in the cupboard. If you don’t see them, there is less of a chance that you will eat them!
A fruit bowl on our counter reminds me to grab an apple, pear or orange as a healthy snack option.
We prepare some healthy snacks ahead of time and keep it within easy reach in the fridge (e.g. veggie sticks, hummus, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, chia seed pudding).
Remember, well-planned snacks are as important as balanced meals. Take some of these tips to help you establish some good boundaries and habits when it comes to snacking.
Leave a comment below and lets us know if have any success with these ideas. You may have some of your own.