Snacking can be the enemy of the waistline. It’s easy to start nibbling out of boredom, tiredness, habit or politeness, but you can end up taking in far more food than you need over the course of a day.
Snacking absolutely has a place in a balanced diet when it is part of your plan and made up of nutritious foods. Frequently, this is not the case, however. If you are hoping to feel healthier and look your best this summer, start with a quick snack review.
Do you snack by the clock?
It’s 10 am. Or 3 pm. Or 9 pm. Do any of these times trigger a snack memory? Do you reach for the biscuit tin, or have the urge to order a muffin based on the time of day? Is it a habit of yours to match your regular cuppa with a little something on the side? Habits are hard to break sometimes, and seem innocuous – ‘it’s only one biscuit’ – but it can add up.
The same can be said for takeaway coffee/beverages. If you always have one in the car, any quick trick can trigger the desire, which may add up to a lot of caffeine on a day if you are doing a lot of errands, and extra calories in the form of the milk. Everyone loves a good coffee, but if you find you are having more than a couple a day, you may find you are drinking up to a litre of milk, that may not be in your diet plan. Juices and drinks, in general, can add a lot of invisible calories to your day – try and drink mainly water or herbal tea.
Ditto for habit-forming occasions, like the movies. It can be hard to sit in a dark theatre without popcorn, an ice cream to dip it in to, a drink and maybe a bag of lollies. As a rare outing, this may be okay, but if you are a regular moviegoer, you could be taking in an extra day’s worth of calories in a couple of hours!
Are you tired or thirsty?
Hunger is often mistaken for thirst or used to pep up and overtired system. Try drinking a glass of water, or cup of herbal tea five minutes before you snack.
Are you distracted?
Just like the movies, snacking in front of the television can be insidious. You were just going to have a few chips or one biscuit, but now the whole packet is gone….
Try and snack the way you eat; ideally at the table, without the distraction of a screen or newspaper, which may prevent you from realising when you have eaten enough.
Hide the temptations
What the eye sees, the stomach craves – if you’ve ever driven past a fast food restaurant and found yourself turning in, you understand the feeling.
Put the treat food in a hard-to-access part of your pantry and move the fruit/air popped corn/hummus/vegetables/raw nuts to a pride of place.
Beware of peer pressure
Cheese, crackers, dips, sausage rolls and all manner of sweet treats come out at social gatherings, along with alcohol. If you are prioritising your health, keep an eye out for people urging you to ‘just have one more.’ Check whether you are actually hungry before you start digging in.
Snacking on nutritious, fresh food is a great way to get extra fruit, vegetables and fibre into your diet. Eating small portions regularly throughout the day keeps your metabolism working at its optimum level. Just remember; if you are adding snacks in during the day, you will probably need to reduce the portion sizes of your main meals a little.