I’m not sure why snacks have become a daily staple for so many folks. Maybe it’s a growing appetite, or maybe a lingering remnant from childhood serving as an afternoon comfort food. No matter how or why they’re here, snack attacks have more of a potential to be all filler and not really hunger killers.
“Snack”- it sounds like just a little harmless treat! But there can be some serious trouble lurking behind that cute little word. If you’re just popping non-stop for the sake of it – it’s time to nip your nibbles in the bud.
To start re-evaluating snack-time, ask yourself these questions:
Does eating a snack make you eat less?
A snack is actually worthwhile if grabbing something mid-afternoon really and truly does help you be moderate at night. If an apple is all you need to stop you from a “nosh and cook” scenario, or will stop you from feeling ravenous and making not such a great dinner decision, then by all means – snack away! But for many, dinner-time is a real time to sit back and think about what they’re chomping on. If you’d rather have a fuller plate when you can actually enjoy your food, the snack is just needless calories.
Do you find you actually lose weight while on vacation?
Okay, this might sound a little crazy but seriously, think about it! How often do you need a snack on vacation? And not even on vacation, how often do you stop yourself at 3 pm on a Saturday because you need a nibble? If the answer is never, then you probably don’t need a snack to get through your day, hunger-wise, but more boredom-wise. Try replacing your routine snack with another sort of break – take a walk (even if it’s just to chat with a co-worker) or make yourself a cup of green tea. If you can do that and not get ravenous for dinner, you probably don’t need a daily snack.
Are you mindlessly munching on “air foods”?
“Air foods” are simply foods that you shove down but really don’t do anything for you. Sure, something might be just 100 calories, but if it leaves you hungry, unsatisfied and still filling up your dinner plate – it’s a waste of 100 calories. Try having your snack at whatever time is the least busy for you, a time when you can sit back and process what you’re eating so you get the satisfaction that will lead to the snack serving its purpose – helping you eat less at dinner. If you wind down your day with a half an hour answering e-mails or enjoy your commute home, those are the ideal times to get in a few bites of something satisfying.
Is your sweet tooth souring your whole day?
If your afternoon or mid-morning is never complete without something sweet (or something savory but sinful), then ditching the snack altogether right off the bat probably isn't possible. A mid-morning snack should be no more than 200 calories, while an afternoon/evening snack should be no more than 100 calories. If it’s cookies in the morning, potato chips in the evening, pizza at supper-time -- you are definitely in need of a snack makeover. For someone who’s crunching on cookies, try a sweet KIND bar. Some deli turkey in the afternoon isn't going cold-turkey off the snacks, but a much better option than salty, crunchy, irresistible chips.
If your snacks are here to stay, that’s totally okay!
If your snacks only enhance your daily eating, keep them as part of your routine. My final secret is to keep them interesting and fun. This way, it doesn't ever become the same, boring bar day in and day out and will continue to be a treat and not a chore. Here’s a few ideas for mid-day munchies to keep things spicy and snacking smart!
1. Health Warrior 100 Calorie Chia Bar
2. Matt's Munchies all natural fruit strip (LOVE island mango flavor but all are great!) plus one bag SeaSnax Stix
3. Wild Garden Hummus To Go with 1-2 Fiber Rich crackers
4. Barney's 90 Calorie Nut Butter with 1-2 Fiber Rich crackers
5. Sunbiotics Cheesy Almonds or Wonderful Pistachios 100 calorie bag
6. Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie pack with 1-2 Fiber Rich crackers
7. Stoneyfield Nonfat Cafe Latte Greek Yogurt with 1 tablespoon Qi'a Superfood Original flavor
8. Breakstone's 2% individual cottage cheese plus 1 teaspoon of Crofter's Superfruit Spread with 1-2 Fiber Rich crackers
9. Organic Valley string cheese with 2 slices of Applegate Farms Organic Roasted Turkey Breast
10. Good Health Half Naked Popcorn with a Hint of Olive Oil, 5 cups (120 calories) with Sriracha