|This is a guest post by Stacey Yan, a good friend of mine. Stacey has just completed her MSW degree and is currently enjoying her off time hiking around the various trails of Southern California.|
Did you know that snacking while paying attention to something else, such as watching TV can cause you to eat much more than if you were paying attention solely to eating? Changing your snacking habits and what you snack on can help you improve your health, whether your goals are to lose weight or improve how you feel, here are some simple tips for healthy snacking.
Healthy Alternatives to Common Snacks
Seeking out healthier choices when eating out with friends at happy hour? Just because you’re at a bar doesn’t mean there aren’t smart alternatives to your favorite foods and drinks. You can cut calories just by your choice of cocktail. For example, a vodka soda is only 97 calories vs. a vodka tonic which has 159 calories. As for bar bites, be aware that food that has breading, is deep fried, or drenched in sauce is usually packed with empty calories. Opt for food that is baked, grilled, or steamed.
Snacking at home? Popcorn (without all the butter), hummus, nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts, avocado, and edamame are all tasty options.
|Common Snacks||Healthy Alternatives|
|Chips and Guacamole||Chips and Salsa|
|French Fries||Baked Potato Fries|
|Vegetables and Ranch Dressing||Vegetables and Hummus|
|Fried Egg Rolls||Spring Rolls|
Snack, But Smartly
If you have the munchies and are craving a snack, it’s better to satisfy the craving (preferably with a healthy snack) than to ignore it and risk bingeing out on junk food later on. Snacks containing protein are smart choices, since they are filling and will hold you over until your next meal. Consider the healthy alternatives suggested above, or try a stick of string cheese. Fruit is another great option – it has a high water content, no fat, necessary carbohydrates, and healthy fiber. Craving sweet? Or salty? Here are 30 more healthy options for both salty & sweet snacks under 200 calories.
Control Your Portions
Sometimes we crave junk food and no other snack will satisfy the craving. If you must snack on less healthy treats, just make sure that you keep an eye on how much you are eating. It’s so easy to open up a bag of chips and snack away, only to realize that you’ve eaten half the bag (or more!). Eating straight out of a snack bag is almost always a bad idea because most of us don’t have the self-control to only have a few when the entire bag is in front of us. A simple way to allow yourself the treat but also control the portion you eat is to pour out a small amount then close and put away the rest. That way, you get to have a taste to satisfy the craving but don’t find yourself with an empty bag and feelings of regret.
5 Tips for Healthier Snacking
- Avoid snacking in front of the TV. Mindlessly munching while watching TV is a recipe for overeating and bingeing. You can take in 40% more calories than usual just by being distracted.
- Skip sugary beverages. Instead, choose water, black coffee, and tea.
- Choose quality over quantity. Eat what tastes good to you (rather than diet, fat-free, or lite versions) in reasonable amounts.
- Chewing a piece of gum is a great way to satisfy those light cravings. A piece of sugarfree gum is only 5 calories, and the act of chewing may be enough to ward off a snack attack. Or if the situation permits, redirect your brain by calling a friend to chat. Cravings only last about 5 minutes, so the urge may have passed by the time you hang up.
- Eat breakfast! When you have a carb and protein rich breakfast, your sugar levels will stay steady and this keeps hunger pangs and cravings in check.
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Photo by: roboppy