Mindlessly munching as you meander through your day is one of the easiest ways to gain weight. While sensible snacking can actually aid in your weight loss efforts, eating unhealthy foods between meals can have disastrous effects. Before you reach for that mid-afternoon snack, consider the guidelines below.
Eat Smaller Meals, More Frequently
The traditional three square meals a day recommendation is a thing of the past. If you want to keep your metabolism and energy going strong, focus instead on eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Make sure each meal contains a good source of lean protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, or reduced-fat dairy, and load up on fiber-rich veggies and legumes. Both protein and fiber will help fill you up and tide you over until your next meal.
Identify Mood Triggers
Often our moods dictate food cravings. Keep a food journal and note how you are feeling when that urge to eat something unhealthy hits. Do you eat when you are bored, sad, tired, etc.? If so, the next item—distraction—is the key.
Distract Yourself and Wait It Out
The next time the craving for a particular food hits, distract yourself. Go for a walk, play on the computer, call a friend—anything that gets your mind off food. If after 20 minutes the urge has not passed, go ahead and have a small portion. If you completely deny yourself, you’re more likely to indulge later on.
Drink a Glass of Water
With all of the fad diets and expensive gimmicks out there, it’s ironic that water may turn out to be one of our most effective weight-loss tools. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drank a full glass of water before each meal lost more weight than a control group that didn’t drink water before meals. Just make sure the water you drink is filtered.
Avoid Eating In Front of the TV or Computer
Ever accidentally snacked your way through a whole bag of chips or popcorn during a movie or while you were playing around on the computer? If you answered “no,” you’re either telling a fib or you’re very disciplined.
Snacking while you are engrossed in a TV program or a computer task can cause you to ignore portions and distract you from heeding feelings of satiety. It’s better to take a break to eat. That way, you’re aware of exactly what—and how much—you are putting into your body.
Don’t Buy Foods You Can’t Resist
If you know that cake and cookies are your weakness, don’t buy them. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but resisting the urge at the grocery store is where it starts.
Take it a step further by purging your refrigerator and cupboards of unhealthy items. Instead, stock up on healthy foods like almonds, fresh veggies with humus dip, and lean protein such as turkey deli meat, hard-boiled eggs, and reduced-fat string cheese so you have better snacking options.