Snacking is a double-edged sword when it comes to weight loss. Snacks can be helpful to stave off hunger between meals and provide satiating nutrients like protein and fiber. On the other hand, unhealthy or excessive snacking can also sabotage the best-laid plans for healthy meals. Snacking can also be problematic if you find yourself reaching for snacks out of boredom, stress or other reasons besides hunger. If you are working on changing your eating habits to promote weight loss, it’s a good idea to take a good look at your snacks and snacking habits.
Here are 3 top tips for snacking and some healthy snack ideas.
1. Make Snacks Count
It can be tempting to fill up on processed snack foods like chips, candy, cookies, ice cream or crackers, which are often loaded with refined carbs, sugar, salt, and fat. Or worse yet, fill up on liquid snacks, like soda or flavored coffee drinks. Instead of thinking about snacks as treats, think about snacks as mini fuelings designed to pack in extra nutrients, like fiber, protein, healthy fats, calcium or vitamins. A general rule of thumb is to keep snacks under 200 calories, and to pick choices with at least 5 grams protein or 2 grams of fiber. See below for snack ideas that will fill you up and satisfy your sweet or salty cravings.
2. Snack Portions Matter
Snacks often come in bags or packages that contain multiple servings. While it is convenient to eat out of the bag, inevitably this leads to eating multiple portions of snacks, which piles on the calories. For instance, a serving of chips (that’s just 11 chips!) contains about 160 calories. However, an entire bag of chips contains 10-15 servings on average. That’s at least 1600 calories in a bag! Avoid portion distortion for snacks by measuring out one serving and putting the package or bag away. You can also buy snacks in 100 calorie packages or single servings. Don’t leave snacks in easily accessible spaces, like at your desk, sofa or by your bed. Instead, store snacks in harder to reach places, like the top shelf of your pantry, or a storage bin. Out of sight, out of mind!
3. Do you really need a snack?
The afternoon slump, the long commute, the nightly TV show are all times when we tend to pull out the snacks on a regular basis. The next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” It might just be that you are eating snacks out of habit, and not true hunger. If that’s the case, those extra calories are going to make it harder to reach your goal weight. If you find yourself reaching for snacks out of habit, try swapping in a different behavior. For instance, you could sip on herbal tea or seltzer while you watch the evening news, or chew on gum while you’re driving. Try getting up and stretching your legs at work. Better yet, take a walk to the water cooler instead of reaching for your snack drawer.
For your inspiration, here are 10 portion-controlled snacks that pack a nutritious punch.
- ¼ cup Nuts + 1 small square dark chocolate
- 5oz Greek Yogurt with <15g carbs
- Bell peppers and 1/3 cup hummus
- Small apple and cheese stick
- 1 TB Peanut butter on celery
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce and ½ cup cottage cheese
- Hard boiled egg
- 1 cup berries
- 3 cups air popped popcorn
- Baby carrots, cauliflower or cucumbers with ¼ cup light ranch
Changing habits is hard work, but it’s worth it in the long run. Here at The Silhouette Clinic, we know that each person’s weight loss journey is unique and requires individualized care. If you are frustrated by a lack of success with your weight loss efforts and want to say goodbye to obesity, schedule an appointment at The Silhouette Clinic today. We offer a wide array of non-surgical weight loss options to help you achieve your goals and will help you determine the best fit for you.