6 Ways to Snack Smarter

Snacking may seem innocent, but it’s easy to get carried away. Pretty soon excuses start piling up, and bad habits are formed, leading to weight gain and having a hard time controlling those cravings. The reason snacking can spiral out of control is not only due to unhealthy eating habits, but it also has to do with the size of a plate, the type of snack, or what time the snack gets eaten. Imagine being able to control those cravings and find a way to get and stay healthy. In the Body Reboot book, we discuss what snacks to eat on a high fat, low carb diet and how to make better eating decisions. Believe it or not, but there are ways to control appetite and feel better inside and out! Below read 6 tips on how to avoid a failed diet due to horrible snacking habits:

Don’t Snack Based on Your Emotions

Our emotions have a lot of power over us, which is why you should do your best to ignore them. It’s easier said than done, huh? As opposed to letting your emotions have the final say, tell them to get lost, or as Mind Body Green recommends, practice positive restraint.

Think of emotional snacking as the grown-up version of a pacifier. Eating calms us down, helps distract us, or even numbs us from experiencing our emotions. But it's not a solution. Use your self-compassion to avoid snacking in those situations. Acknowledge how you feel; it will help you use love-power instead of willpower. I call it “Positive Restraint.”

Go Nuts

Harvard Health Publishing recommends reaching for healthier snacks as opposed to sugary snacks that are more likely to lead to weight gain. An example of one healthy yet tasty snack is nuts. Nuts happen to be excellent to eat while on a low carb, high-fat diet, so grab a handful of salty nuts and enjoy!

Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.

Plan Ahead to Remove Temptation

WebMD recommends planning your snacks or at least being aware of the calories in snacks so you can either avoid them or eat healthier snacks while traveling or on the go. As opposed to caving in and eating that cookie at McDonald’s, do some research ahead of time. Many times after looking at the nutrition you’ll be less likely to buy that unhealthy snack when you can munch on something that’s tasty and healthier instead.

If you want to plan ahead and remove temptation, Higgins says, check out some regular snack options online. You can go to the McDonald's web site (search on “nutrition”), for instance, and scope out the calorie and carb counts on the new offerings. She does this with her diabetic clients.

Although it's hard to “snackify,” it's relaxing and softens stress.

But what about snacking against boredom? “Boredom or stress,” Duyff says, “should not signal ‘time to eat.' How about walking the dog or dancing around to a CD? Today it might be a celery stick, but tomorrow a whole bowl of something.

Keep Chewing

Sometimes chewing on nuts, or gum, for example, as EatingWell recommends, can help you feel fuller longer and make you more mindful as to what you're eating. Being mindful about what you’re putting in your mouth will hopefully leading to less snacking.

Savor your snack by chewing it slowly and thoroughly. One study found that people who chewed almonds thoroughly (up to 40 chews) felt full longer than those who chewed the same amount of nuts fewer times.

Don’t Eat While Watching TV

One of the biggest weight gaining culprits is eating while you’re watching a Netflix movie or television show. It’s so easy to eat without thinking, and pretty soon you’ve eaten an entire bowl of popcorn or eaten far too many treats without even realizing it. Mindless eating isn’t something you should get used to doing, which is why HuffPost Life recommends avoiding snacking altogether while watching TV or limiting the size of your snacking bowl.

Sure, it's fun to have something to munch on when you plop down in front of the TV. But according to a study from Cornell University researchers, action-packed entertainment could distract you from realizing how much you're actually putting in your mouth. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, showed that people consumed 354 calories in snacks, on average, when they were watching an action movie, compared with nearly 21 calories when they were watching Charlie Rose (what most people would consider less exciting TV). “When watching highly distracting content, it may be best to avoid snacking, or use preportioned snacks rather than snacking out of a large bowl or bag,” study researcher Aner Tal said in a statement. “If you want to have a huge bowl of snacks by the TV, be aware you might wind up mindlessly eating more than you’d planned, and make it a bowl of scrumptious baby carrots.”

What you eat out of could also have an impact on the amount you consume. A 2006 study in The FASEB Journal showed that when you serve yourself cereal — whether you’re an adult or a kid — you’ll serve yourself more of it if you’re using a larger plate, versus a smaller plate. Blame it on something called the “Delboeuf illusion” — which is when we’re tricked into thinking a circle is smaller if there’s more white space around it.

Snack With a Purpose

Part of selecting healthier snacks is learning what your body may be trying to tell you. As opposed to snacking away, first, work on drinking more water. WebMD also says that you should observe your eating patterns. Your body may be craving some vital nutrients you’re not getting enough of, which is easily remedied by incorporating theses missing foods into your diet going forward.

If you are a between-meals eater, look at your eating pattern, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, tells WebMD. “It may be a snack — for you — is a fourth meal or a good way to get a nutrient you missed. Think of it that way.”

What are some common snacking moments, and what might you use to fill them (and yourself)?

When you need a wake-up or energy jolt. It's smart to eat a small breakfast of carbs and protein (cereal, egg, milk), says Duyff. It's even OK for most people to have a sensible amount of coffee, she says. “Have a latte with milk; that way you get a protein hit,” she says (a candy bar will not give you the boost you want, she notes). Higgins also advises having milk or protein foods such as peanuts or cottage cheese.

Eat the Right Foods

Similar to snacking smart, be wise about what type of foods you choose to eat while snacking. For example, RealSimple recommends selecting foods that provide the right kind of vitamins your body needs. If you go on the keto diet a lot of fruits such as oranges or apples have more carbs than berries. However, berries still have a lot of vital nutrients. Choose food that’s packed full of nutrients instead of reaching for keto-friendly gummy bears or another food item that isn’t as nutrient-dense.

“Snacking is a great way to fit in all the nutrients that your body requires each day,” says Marisa Moore, a registered dietitian in Atlanta and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Case in point: The average American woman doesn’t get the recommended 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, so Moore suggests seeking out snacks rich in the mineral―for example, low-fat yogurt or almonds, which also pack in more protein and fiber. Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network’s Healthy Appetite and author of the cookbook So Easy ($20, amazon.com), recommends including a fruit or a vegetable in every meal and snack to get the nutrients you need. She notes that a crunchy apple or a juicy orange can boost your satisfaction for fewer calories while also adding important antioxidants to your diet. For a savory snack, Krieger dips celery into Sabra Hummus, and for a sweet fix, she dips fruit into Yoplait Yoplus fiber-enriched yogurt (both are widely available at supermarkets).

Snacking smarter makes a huge difference in your quest to live a healthier life. It’s not all about eating, however. It’s about finding a diet that helps transform your way of thinking. The keto diet is an excellent diet that’s helping people lose weight and keep it off. It’s our goal to help people get healthy, and we want to offer you support as well. At the time of writing this post, we're giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book. Help us cover the cost of shipping, and we’d be happy to send you a FREE book. Head to this page TODAY to see if there are any remaining copies.

Sources: Mind Body Green, Harvard Health, WebMD, EatingWell, HuffPost Life, RealSimple

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