When it comes to snacking, I can’t tell you how often I have heard from clients, “Everything is fine until late afternoon,” or “I’m a different person after dinner.”
At these times of day nutrition knowledge is irrelevant. Willpower is not enough; you need to have a plan in place, because planning supersedes willpower. Once you conquer your trouble spot (not talking thighs or abs, here), real progress will be yours. Here are my top 10 tips to becoming a smart snacker.
1. Sign a Pre-snacktual agreement
At Foodtrainers, we literally have midafternoon munchers sign on the dotted line. They pick two mid afternoon snacks for the week and stick to them. “What should I have?” rarely ends well.
2. Organize Your Afternoon Ammunition
In order to keep yourself “armed” for any snacking situation, keep a snack stash. Like a healthy Easter egg hunt, keep snacks in your purse, office drawer, gym bag, kid’s backpacks, and glove compartment.
3. Choose Snacks that aren’t zeros
The best snacks have more than a few grams of protein or fiber or both. If you see zeros for both protein and fiber, that snack is a zero.
4. Space out your snacks
While you don’t want to wait too long after lunch for a mid afternoon snack, if you want something an hour after lunch that’s not about hunger. A mid afternoon snack should be at least 2 but no more than 4 hours after lunch.
5. Shun Container Eating
Any snack is abusable if you put a Costco-sized container of it in front of you. Divide large portions into single serve sizes as soon as you get home from the store. No container munching while you divide.
6. Make Crunch-time Healthy
It’s stress relieving to eat crunchy foods—just choose healthy ones. I’m a big fan of KIND bar’s new Strong line—the bars are savory and a little crunchy. And of course crudité always works (I’m a radish girl).
7. opt for Activity Foods
Nuts in the shell, peel and eat shrimp or artichokes all require work. This work provides nutritional breaks and you end up eating less.
8. Energize with a Snooze
Sometimes we snack when we really need a rest. A short afternoon nap can save you many calories.
9. Retrain Your Tummy
There’s research that the intestinal flora, or gut bacteria, is different in those who crave sweets than those who do not. You can improve your gut flora by eating probiotic foods, like kombucha, fermented veggies (think, sour kraut), and miso.
10. Close the Kitchen
Many of us can snack until it’s time for bed. This isn’t great for your sleep or your weight. Close the kitchen at least 2 hours before bed. To make it more formal put a sticky note on your fridge or tweet me @Foodtrainers #kitchenisclosed.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.