We eat for so many reasons aside from simply being hungry. Some of us when we’re bored, while others eat when we’re stressed or tired. In general, snack time, as compared with meal time, tends to be more emotionally-driven and less well planned. Use these tips to keep your snack choices as healthy as possible.
1) Be prepared: Most people are aware of what time of day or how long after meals they tend to get hungry. If you are running errands or going to work, bring something with you to hold you over. Use tip number two to help guide your snack selection.
2) Read the ingredient list: Don’t be fooled by healthy-sounding claims like “all natural” /or and “organic”. Instead, make sure the ingredient list is not too long and has ingredients that you can pronounce! Don’t forget, items are listed in order of predominance from most to least. If sugar or any kind of “syrup” is listed towards the top, generally it may not be the healthiest choice.
3) Read the nutrition facts label: Read the serving size and stick to it! Be careful not to eat out of the package if it contains more than a single serving. Food psychology studies show that when you eat out the package, you are likely to eat more than you would if you set aside a single serving. Also look for things like sugar and fiber content. Aim to keep sugar to 8 grams or less (this is equal to 2 packets of sugar) and fiber to 4 grams or more. In general, snacks should not exceed 200 calories.
4) Increase visibility: Keep non-perishable snacks in your top drawer and perishable snacks on the middle shelf in your fridge at eye level. If you see healthier choices first, you are less likely to forget about them or let them rot.
5) Eat mindfully: Use tips from the mindful eating blog to evaluate a) how hungry you are before you start eating (also think about when your next meal is….is it 1 hour or 4 hours? If it is a short period of time, then you may just need a small snack to hold you over), b) slow down your eating so that you enjoy and savor it more, and c) evaluate your emotions before you start eating. If you are eating for a reason other than hunger, find a better solution to address the reason (i.e. listen to a song to de-stress, etc.)
Look for my next blog post coming soon featuring my favorite healthy snacks!