Snacking is my biggest downfall. I eat very healthy meals, watching what I eat, how much, and I count calories. I’m concerned about keeping my weight in check but also want to give my body what it needs to stay healthy and disease free. BUT- it’s those darn between meal times that are ruining everything! I don’t know if I am really hungry or just in the habit of snacking but I am adding lots of unnecessary calories and usually sugar and/or salt into my system. Here are some snacking tips.
Morning Munchies: To curb morning munchies, eat a healthy breakfast that includes some protein and fiber. I do this but by 10am I am wandering the office looking for food and it usually ends up to be candy. Don’t feel bad if you are hungry 3-4 hours after breakfast, this is normal so plan ahead. Pack a banana, apple, or some grapes to tide you over until lunch. If you aren’t going to be eating lunch for a while, have some protein like some string cheese or greek yogurt.
Mid- Afternoon Hungries: This is a tough time for a lot of folks since they lunch between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM and dinner at 6:00 PM, that is a lot of hours so a snack makes sense. Try yogurt and cereal, or cottage cheese and fruit. DON’T eat sugary, empty-calorie foods. They will cause you to remain hungry and you may overeat later. I like a wasa cracker with some fat-free strawberry cream cheese to appease my sweet tooth or some peanut butter on celery sticks to satisfy a salty/crunchy craving.
After Work Grazing: I am often so hungry when I get home from work that I eat anything I can get my hands on, probably more calories than the meal I’m making. This might sound odd but I now drink a Bud Light 55 while preparing dinner. It is only 55 calories but is satisfying and gives my hands something to do instead of reaching for chips, marshmallows, crackers, etc. Also, beer has some good health benefits.
TV Time: Do you have a favorite chair that you sit in while watching TV? Is it full of snack crumbs like mine? When you’re in a ‘comfort’ place like that, you’re likely to lose track of the quantity you take in. The first step is to try to not eat in your ‘happy place,’ but if you really want to, have a set snack — don’t graze. Stick to a portion controlled snack, not the whole bag. You can do great all day with your calories only to blow it while mindlessly munching in front of the TV.
Late Night Noshing: Need a little something before bed? This time of day can be deadly. First- do you REALLY need something or is eating before bed a bad habit? If I am teaching at 5am I like to have a banana with peanut butter or a cheese quesadilla to get me through the night and all the way through class.
Cheese quesadilla before bed? Yes! Sprinkle some grated low-fat cheese, like Jarlesberg light, on a high-fiber tortilla, fold, then crisp both sides on a cast-iron skillet or indoor grill. Check the Nu Val scores on both the tortillas and cheese to make the most nutritious choice.
Other good late night snacks are frozen blueberries, yogurt with some crushed pretzels mixed in (I like to dip!) or a small square of dark chocolate.
Reminder- Your weight is all about balancing calories in and calories out. Don’t let munching keep you from reaching your goals. It all adds up!