Weight Wars 2: Healthy Snacks: Eat Right, Feel Great!

By Martin Brown

pic1We don’t make ten or twenty food decisions a day, but something like two hundred.

Let me guess: You’re finding this hard to believe.

Well, it’s true. And according to the research conducted by Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and nutritional science at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating, Why We Eat Much More Than We Think, this does not just refer to a major decision like, “Should I eat dinner before going to the movie, or after getting home…”

Wansink’s focus is on the dozens of small decisions that we make throughout the day involving food.

Look at dinner alone. “Do I want that extra piece of bread? Should I put a little more dressing on my salad? Butter on that potato, or just a little sour cream?”

None of these are major decisions, but as we throw on 75 calories here, and another 80 calories there, it all begins to add up. And perhaps that is why our dieting goes back and forth. There are times when we’re beating back the extra weight and other times we’re fighting a losing battle, and slipping back into the easy fit pants with that extra panel around the waist.

Don’t hate yourself for that. None of us should forget that we live in an age of incredible temptation when it comes to excess caloric consumption. In other words putting on weight, for most of us, is too easy, and getting it back off is way too hard.

Following last week’s article on mindless eating, a few of our SingleMindedWomen readers asked the inevitable question, “What do I do to control my snacking?” That’s a great question. In an age of abundance, the temptation to overeat is everywhere we turn. It doesn’t just hit us at lunch or dinner, but all those times when the urge to snack rises up inside of us.  For some that is mid-morning, or mid-afternoon. Others feel the greatest urge at 8, or 9 o’clock at night, when we are comfortably in front of the TV watching our favorite show.

Like the message in Mindless Eating, what is needed more than anything else is an adjustment in our attitude towards food. First, we should accept the fact that the urge to snack is perfectly normal. It doesn’t mean that you are weak and bound to fail in your diet. Don’t fight the urge to snack, go with it, but have a plan first for how you want to deal with those urges. Second, accept that the temptation to do the wrong thing is much greater than the lure of doing something healthy. Those chocolate chip cookies look a lot more tempting than an apple, orange, or a handful of almonds. It’s the cookies and the sugar products that have been marketed to us for decades. No one ever put a lot of money down trying to make carrots look sexy and celery appealing. More money has been spent by Coca Cola in a single year of advertising their product than all the fruit and vegetable marketing expenditures since the dawn of broadcasting.

Bottom line: You’re up against stiff odds, so have a plan that will stand tough.These three easy steps tell how:

1. Be ready for snacks—with the right snacks.
Know that the urge will hit to snack before meals and be ready to meet it head on. That means having food with you or in the house, if you’re at home, that will meet that need. For example, in my house we always have convenient healthy snacks ready to grab. Raisins, other dried fruits, bananas, bags of cut, peeled, and washed carrots, almonds, cashews, and much more. Many companies make healthy snack products, Kashi, for example has low-cal crunch bars, protein lean power drinks, crackers, and more. Avoid Snack Wells, they are generally high in sugars and low in nutritional benefits. 

Enter “Healthy Snacks” into a Google search and you’ll come up with about three hundred good ideas in twenty minutes or less.

2. Know that in the end it all comes down to calories consumed and calories burned.
Begin by knowing your ideal calorie load for the day. You can find this out in two minutes by going to the Mayo Clinic’s online calorie calculator at:

Once you know that target calorie number (and it will calculate for you one number for weight maintenance and another for weight loss) you can plan accordingly. I’m not one to start weighing food, personally that would drive me crazy. But you need a rough idea of what the calorie numbers are. For example a handful of almonds, say 22, is a little more than a 150 calories, But munch handful after handful and once you’ve eaten a cup’s worth you have downed about 850 calories. So snack, but snack smart, and know that as with all other things, too much of a good thing can be a bad idea. On the calories burned side of this equation, walking, treadmill, sit-ups, gardening, and more; there are so many ways to burn calories; but remember sitting on your rear is not one of them.

3. Going back to the lessons of Wansink’s Mindless Eating, you have to be mindful of the calories you consume.
Sitting in front of the TV with an open bag of anything, from high calorie chips, to low calorie almonds is an invitation to over consume calories. Instead, go to the kitchen, take a fixed portion, and go back to the TV. Open bags simply defy your need to eat thoughtfully and lose weight successfully. If, on the other hand, you eat a reasonable snack portion, and then have to go back to the kitchen for a second or third small snack, it will click into you that it is time to stop. Mindful snacking is the best defense in beating back the forces of overeating.
















































Courtesy of Healthchecksystem.com


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