Smart Snacking

By Martin Brown

smartsnacksRecently I had a friend express her concern to me about what she called her “monthly eating binge.” A phenomenon which comes shortly before the onset of her period. “That’s rather common,” I responded. While the timing is by no means the same for all women, most of us, men and women alike, have various times when the urge to snack goes off the charts.

The desire to snack is all but inevitable for most of us. But how we choose to snack is anything but a foregone solution.

Here are three simple rules to follow about snacking that will help you to control excessive weight gain and will put you on the path of eating a healthier diet:

1. Mini meals are okay.

As kids most of us heard the wrong advice from our parents, either we were told “no snacks between meals,” or we were told to grab whatever we wanted that was handy. If carrots were around that was fine, but so was a bag of potato chips or half a box of cookies.

Because of this habit of treating snacking as an afterthought, few of us learned how as kids to have smart snacks and as adults we have paid the price for that lack of awareness.

2. . For snack time at home or away at the office, come prepared with one or more of these treats.
Chopped raw vegetables with low-fat dip, dressing, carrots, sugar snap peas, and lots of other yummy veggies come in ready to eat mini packs that can go easily to work with you.

Bread sticks, whole-grain pretzels, or sliced pita bread with hummus or spicy mustard. To sweeten things up a little try an organic peanut butter spread as well.

Use frozen fruit in an ice pop, or blended into a smoothie. Or toss together banana pieces, apple slices and more in a plastic container.

A low calorie trail mix with healthy nuts and dry berries and or whole-grain cereal with chopped nuts and dried berries can also hit that hunger spot.

There are these and lots of other choices—if you take the time to think about what you would like, and you’re willing to mix and match your treats to keep things interesting.

3. Finally I want you to keep a couple of simple snack rules in mind: One, no snack needs to exceed 250 calories.
This is afterall a meal between meals, not a main event so keep it smart and keep it relatively light.

Also,  smart snacking is something you want to do in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Try to avoid snacking after dinner and plan a substantial breakfast for the following morning instead. There’s a reason the first meal of the day is called, break-fast: because it follows a twelve to fourteen hour period of not eating. It’s greatly beneficial to your body to have this daily fast, not to mention you will sleep better on a stomach that is not full.

In fact, the vast majority of people who have and maintain a healthy weight invariably have a healthy breakfast. Show me someone who eats a breakfast consisting of a cup of coffee and a glazed donut, and I’ll show you a person with a bad diet, and the health problems that come from that.

Snacking is a normal and healthy part of your life. Just remember to snack smart, which does not include, high sugar, high calorie soft drinks, cookies, and junk food. Eat smart snacks and healthy meals and your body will reward you with a trimmer, fitter you.