Don’t Become a Snack Monster

Don't Become a Snack Monster
Don't Become a Snack Monster
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
Ice Cream Yogurt

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

  1. 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.
  2. Skip sugary beverages. Instead, choose water, black coffee, and tea.
  3. Choose quality over quantity. Eat what tastes good to you (rather than diet, fat-free, or lite versions) in reasonable amounts.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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15 thoughts on “Don’t Become a Snack Monster”

  1. Great little article. I have a real sweet tooth and have started to replace chocolate with really sweet, juicy tangerines. One may say that there it still too much fructose with this approach, but at least I’m getting vitamins, fiber and water as well. It’s an improvement and still tastes great! 🙂

  2. Heya! 🙂

    I enjoyed reading this, especially since I feel guilty about eating a massive packet of Cadbury tumbles last night. It really makes me want to get some fruit and veggies!

    Have an awesome day!

  3. Thanks, I’m gonna take into account those healthy alternatives. There is a lot of junk out there to put in your mouth and it can be very tempting. But I have a commitment towards an overall healthy lifestyle, so…


  4. Television is my worst enemy when it comes to snacking. I watch TV to relax, stop the brain for a while. Recently, I simply keep snacks out of the house. If I don’t have any I can’t eat them.
    Thanks for a good post.

    1. @Hal: Keeping snacks out of the house is a great way to counter the temptation! Thanks for commenting on Wasabi Burger!

  5. Chips + anything isn’t healthy. And how is guac not healthy? Avocados, as mentioned in the post, are great! (Ugh, sorry about that…)

    I like to people watch. And mostly what I see people doing when they’re doing something else is eating. What I usually see them eating is candy bars, fries, and the like. I just can’t seem to figure out why so many people have weight issues. 😉


    1. @Karol: Thanks for the comment! Trust me, I LOVE guacamole. The table referred primarily to calories and unfortunately from a strict calorie count perspective, having salsa (the fresh kind) would help you lower calorie intake.

  6. I have been guilty of mindless eating in point number one. In the morning getting ready for work, I am walking around between the closet, kitchen coffee pot, checking mail, phone messages with stuff I am snacking on for breakfast. What did I eat? I don’t remember. Thanks for a list to ponder.

    1. @Erin: I tend to consume a lot of media while I eat too. One tip from Leo of ZenHabits suggested we concentrate on eating when we eat (Aside from a good face to face conversation) instead of mindlessly watching TV, etc. Although multi-tasking has been the de facto for me, I’ve been taking more time to really enjoy the foods nature has given us.

  7. I use the gum trick when I know I’m not hungry and just have the munchies, and have found it to be pretty effective!

    Karol, I think what they meant by salsa being a “healthier” alternative than guacamole is that when you compare the two, salsa ends to be lower in calories…although fresh avocados have great nutritional value as well. But you’re right about the chips though!

  8. @Becca: That gum trick sounds pretty useful when that snacking urge hits. Thanks for clarifying the guacamole/salsa info, yup, it’s the calorie count.

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