A Healthy Approach to Snacking

Most of us are making more trips to the kitchen simply because we’re spending more time at home.  Whether its due to boredom, in need of a distraction, or we’re dealing with something a little deeper like anxiety or depression, the temptation to eat has heightened for most of us.

Straying too far from our usual diets potentially can create for unhealthy consequences. “Snack foods” tend to have a bad rap because they’re often high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. Prior to the safer-at-home guidelines, many health-conscious consumers already stayed away from these types of products; however, more recently people have been stocking up on whatever is available at the grocery stores. Even as states start to open up, the important thing to remember is that choosing the right foods – even when we’re snacking – will allow us to maintain our health during these uncertain times.

If you’re worried about how much you’re eating throughout the day, here are five tips to help you snack smartly, from registered dietitian, Susan Bowerman:

You may be dehydrated, not hungry

Before heading to the cupboard to satisfy a craving, pour yourself a glass of water first. The truth is that you may actually be mildly dehydrated, and your body is really just craving fluids. You can also try a light watery snack, like a piece of fruit.

Healthy snacking can help you to work more nutritious foods into your day

The more often you eat, the easier it will be to work in your daily servings of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and calcium-rich dairy products. Use this opportunity to turn snacking into a healthy practice by preparing snacks that provide a mix of low-fat protein (like beans, dairy or poultry) and healthy carbohydrates (like fruit, veggies, and whole grains). The carbs will get digested first and satisfy your hunger right away, and the protein will give your snack a bit more staying power.

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Snacks can fuel your physical and mental energy

It’s actually normal to get hungry about every three to four hours.  When you eat regular meals and snacks, it can help keep your blood sugar more stable throughout the day. That’s a good defense against between-meal dips in blood sugar that can sap your mental and physical energy.

Eat that second lunch

The afternoon stretch between lunch and dinner can be a difficult time, so having something a little more substantial like a protein shake, a cup of cottage cheese with some fruit, or even a low-calorie frozen meal can help keep hunger in check. Then you can do your cutting back at dinner time. And, if after-dinner snacking is a problem for you, try brushing your teeth after dinner. It works as a great signal to stop eating.

Re-think your snacking habits

If you’re eating unhealthy, high-calorie foods like sweets, chips, and sodas keep in mind that these high calorie snack foods can contribute to weight gain and they offer little, if any, nutritional value. You also should think about the reasons you’re eating and identify whether it’s something other than hunger. If you tend to snack when you’re not hungry (maybe you’re bored, stressed, angry or tired), it’s a habit you might want to think about breaking.  Think of other ways to deal with your emotions – take a walk, call a friend, write in a journal or spend a few minutes meditating.  Taking a break for a few minutes will give you time to evaluate whether you’re truly hungry or not.

For more tips from Susan, visit www.IAMHerbalife.com.

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