Why We Snack
It seems like you can snack all day long for a variety of different reasons–most of which don’t include keeping yourself full or healthy.
Sometimes you snack because you’re hungry–and when you do, that’s absolutely okay. Especially when you chose a healthy, low-calorie snack. But, there are a lot of times that it’s easy to reach for food when the culprit isn’t hunger. Have you ever snacked because you were:
- Needed to cope
- As a reward
- Because food was there
If you answered yes to any of those options, you’re not alone. According to a 2003 study on obesity done at Harvard, Americans saw a big jump in calories consumed through snacking. From 1977 to 1996 calories consumed from snacking increased from 261 to 501 calories a day. Additional sources claim that by 2006 that number was up to 580.
Richard D. Mattes, a nutrition professor at Purdue University, labels American’s snacks as “a fourth meal” and research shows that up to 25 percent of our daily calories come from snacks.
Beating the Snack Attack
Knowing that bad snacking presents serious danger to weight loss, it’s important to arm yourself with effective weapons to help you stop the snack attacks. Here are six tips to consider:
- Use water as a weapon. It’s easy to mistake dehydration for hunger, so the first thing you need to do when that snack starts calling your name is reach for a glass of water. If plain water just doesn’t do it for you, don’t reach for soda (which is just as bad for you as a high-calorie snack). Instead, try adding a low-calorie, hunger blocking mix to your water.
- Chew. Don’t swallow. What better way to trick yourself into thinking you’re eating something than to go through the chewing motion without swallowing a thing. Sometimes a piece of gum can help you crush a craving for something sweet. While gum can’t replace food, it can at least trick you into postponing a snack for a while and give you a better chance of making it to your next meal. Just remember that some gums (and mints) have calories, so make sure you pick one that isn’t loaded with sugar or excessive calories.
- Keep your toothbrush armed, loaded and ready for battle. Having freshly brushed teeth and a minty mouth will make even those with the weakest resolve steer clear of the Oreos. And it’s not just Oreos, most snacks will lose their appeal when you have a clean fresh mouth. Nutritionist Deborah Enos suggests that brushing your teeth frequently will, “Help to prevent overeating and excessive snacking.”
- Know your enemy and keep your distance. If you’re surrounded by your favorite indulgences at home or at work, how can you expect to fight off a snack attack? Instead of asking yourself to develop unrealistic willpower, remove the temptation and replace it with a healthier option. Don’t buy things that tempt you and get rid of any unhealthy snacks you have lying around your house.
- A busy brain is a welcome distraction. Keeping yourself, and more importantly, your brain, engaged and active is key if you want your snacking to be lacking. When you are engaged in a task, project or problem, your brain will have to divert its focus and energy to that task. Doing so can make you forget about any cravings. If snack attacks usually strike when you’re at work, switch tasks and give the new task your full focus. If you’re at home, take the kids to the park, read a book, go for a walk, start a puzzle, or play a game.
- Don’t fight the wrong battle. Feeding your emotions is one way to do this. Before you reach for a snack it’s best to ask yourself why you’re really reaching for it. If you’re not physically feeling hunger, chances are you’re feeding your emotions instead of your body. It’s best to snack only when your body sends hunger signals, not when you’re bored, stressed, frustrated, or anything else.
How Snack Healthy
Sometimes there’s no way around it and you absolutely need a snack to get you through your day. There’s nothing wrong with that when the snack comes from a place of hunger and when you make a healthy choice instead of reaching for the overly-processed, calorie-laden items so many of us tend to crave.
Instead, you need a battle plan to help you snack smart:
- Pack your snacks. If you know you’re going to be away from home it’s best to plan ahead and be prepared. By keeping some healthy snacks in your purse, desk, or car, you’ll be ready to fight those cravings, or that trip to the vending machine, with something healthy.
- Just Keep Chewing. Try chewing your food a little longer that usual. Chewing 40 times per bite has been shown to increase feelings of fullness.
- Make your snacks count. If you’re going to snack, use them as a way to help meet your nutritional needs. Only pick snacks that are healthy and have a purpose. Try to pick snacks that:
- Help you meet your recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies
- Contain a hunger-blocker to keep you full until the next meal
- Are full of healthy proteins and carbs
Snack Solution? Weight Loss Bars!
Unhealthy snacking really does wreak havoc on weight loss. If you’ve mastered self-control in other areas of your life, snack attacks have a way of sneaking up on you without notice and they’re a hard battle to beat. If you face daily cravings and desires, you can arm yourself with the proper mindset and a few weapon-like tips and tricks that will make it possible for you to finally win your own personal snack wars.
When the snack attacks do hit, you need to be ready and waiting with one of the most powerful weapons of all. Arm yourself with a few boxes of IdealBars to make sure you have a healthy hunger fighting snack ready and waiting for those days you just can’t say no. Keep some in your purse, some in your car and leave a few stashed safely at work. With their hunger-blocking powers, they’re one snack it’s okay to indulge in.