If you have tried going on a diet before, you know how much snacking can ruin your best efforts to lose weight and eat healthier. Somehow the unhealthy foods are always tastiest!
Benefits of healthy snacking
But not all snacks are bad for you. Healthy snacking is an important way to lose weight, prevent weight gain and ensure that your body has an adequate supply of energy throughout the day. For example, foods that contain complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereal are healthier than foods with simple carbohydrates (sugars) such as candy.
Starving yourself between meals will only make you overeat at the next meal. So snacking isn't always being bad, but make sure you choose the right types of snacks. The following tips on snacking smart will help you make your way towards a slimmer and healthier you.
Tip #1 — Shop smart to snack smart
Choose wisely when you are looking for snacks to buy. Be wary of misleading information on food packaging. For example, something that claims to be low in fat can actually be high in sugar, which adds to your calorie intake just as much as food that is high in fat.
Some foods such as granola bars can seem healthy but can actually be high in trans-fat. Trans-fat can increase cholesterol levels as well as destroy good cholesterol. To avoid consuming unwanted fats unknowingly, read the nutrition information panels before you decide what snacks to get, rather than relying on the marketing spiel on packaging. Check the serving size and do not consume more than one serving at a time.
Tip #2 — Make your own snacks
A cheaper and healthier alternative to buying snacks is making them yourself. You can easily create your own unique mix of nuts and dried fruit. Make it a habit to carry these snacks with you, so you do not get tempted to buy something you see just to satisfy a hunger pang.
Tip #3 — Find healthy substitutes for your cravings
We all give in to our cravings once in a while. But when you next get a craving, try and satisfy it with a healthier alternative, such as a serving of nuts. Or, try non-fat frozen yoghurt instead of ice-cream when your sweet tooth starts to ache.
Tip #4 — Eat smaller meals and stay hydrated
Rather than restricting yourself to three meals a day, try eating smaller portions more frequently. This might even eradicate the need for snacking altogether. Other benefits of eating smaller, more frequent meals may include a reduced risk of obesity and steadier blood sugar levels.
In addition, ensure that you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Dehydration can make your body believe it is hungry, causing you to eat when you do not really need to. Drink plenty of plain water, unsweetened tea or other low-calorie beverages instead of caffeinated, alcoholic or aerated drinks.
Tip #5 — Focus on your food
Have you ever eaten a whole bag of chips while watching a television show without even realizing it? Avoid snacking or eating when your attention is not on the food. Instead, eat slowly and concentrate on what you are consuming. This can help you determine when you feel satisfied, and prevent overeating.
If you have to munch on something while watching a movie, choose something healthy like fruits or sunflower seeds. Contrary to popular belief, popcorn can actually be a healthy, low-calorie snack as long as it is air-popped without added butter.
Eating while checking your email or gaming can make you oblivious to what and how much you are eating. Concentrating on your food helps you eat less and enjoy more.
The next time you snack, try following the tips above to turn an unhealthy addiction into a healthy habit!
Do you have personal recipes for healthy snacks or tips on where they can be bought? Share them with other readers in the comment section below!
Edited by Registered Dietitian Arielle Kamps, M.S., R.D, L.D. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide "Eat Your Way to Health — Secrets of a Healthy Diet".