Let’s face it, everyone has that One Snack that’s just so delicious and satisfying, you can’t help but go to town on it, even when you’re not particularly hungry.
And there’s nothing wrong with that, either — we all deserve to treat ourselves. However, it’s also really freakin’ easy to get lost in the sauce, and the next thing you know, you’ve eaten the whole bag of chips AND the whole jar of nacho cheese even though you were full, and actually quite satisfied, halfway through.
TBH, I’m all of the above. So, I reached out to registered dietitians Jessica Jones, co-creator of Food Heaven Made Easy and author of 28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot, and Jason Ewoldt, wellness dietitian at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, for advice on how best to resist snacking mindlessly — because I will come for all the goodies. If you’re in the same boat, here’s what you should know.
1. First, make sure you’re legit eating balanced meals throughout the day, because skipping meals will only make your cravings worse.
When people skip meals, their blood sugar drops and they tend to get more cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates, Jones says. Simple carbs and sugar get those blood sugar levels back up stat, but at a price: “The problem is when we have that quick release of energy, you can potentially crash because it’s not a stable release of energy into the bloodstream. Afterwards, we might crave even more simple carbs and snack foods,” Jones says.
One way to prevent that cycle is eating at least three balanced meals a day, Jones says. “Ideally, you want half your plate to be vegetables, a quarter to be complex carbs, and a quarter to be protein,” she says, adding that healthy fats will also keep you satiated.
Even if you’re incredibly busy, Ewoldt says that eating SOMETHING (like an apple and string cheese) is better than nothing. You want to take the edge off your hunger, so that later on you’re not going hard AF on a meal or uncontrollably snacking on a mountain of chips, candy, cake, or whatever other simple carbs you can get your hands on.
2. On that note, get acquainted with your hunger cues, and don’t ignore them.
Obviously a growling tummy is one of them. So are headaches, lightheadedness, stomach pain, fatigue, and, of course, feeling irritated — aka HANGRY, Jones and Ewoldt tell BuzzFeed Health.
But sometimes we don’t really listen to these cues. “A lot of people, if they’re working or studying, will just tune that hunger out and keep on doing what they’re doing,” Jones says. And that can lead to overeating when, later on, your appetite grows out of hand and you want to eat everything in sight, she says.
3. And don’t fall for the myth that drinking water is going to get rid of your hunger.
Yeah, you really can’t go wrong with drinking a lot of water since it’ll keep you hydrated. But if you get hungry, no amount of water is going to fix that, both experts say.
“We still need nutrition: macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals,” Ewoldt says. “So you want to make sure you’re eating your scheduled meals throughout the day.”
4. When an intense craving hits, ask yourself if you’re actually hungry; and if you’re not, do something else.
If you’re actually hungry, and all those hunger cues are sounding the alarm, then Jones says you should definitely eat (what you should eat is coming up). But sometimes, you might find in that moment that you’re not as hungry as you thought — you’re actually bored, tired, anxious, lonely, or feeling a whole goddamn range of emotions. And eating feels good, even if you just ate dinner an hour or two ago.
If your hunger situation is actually coming from those emotions, both experts say it’s best to distract yourself with other activities that don’t involve eating. Any activity you enjoy will do — though if you’re tired you, should probably sleep — but if you’re having a hard time thinking of something, Jones suggests writing up a list of five things so that you’ll have a choice of activities later on.
That said, emotional eating isn’t, like, the devil or anything. “You are going to have periods where you eat emotionally, and that’s OK. We all eat emotionally,” Jones says. You just don’t want it to be your go-to coping mechanism for when you’re feeling some type of way.
5. Try to make your snacks more interesting, so they’ll keep you full for longer.
We’re hardwired to crave sweet, salty, fatty, and high-calorie foods. “Look at chips — they’re perfectly balanced when it comes to the amount of salt and crunch,” Ewoldt says. And having just one bite can make you crave more, Jones says.
So try to replace these snacks with healthier ones whenever possible. “I always recommend people have a balanced snack that includes some form of complex carb, protein, and healthy fat,” Jones says. Fiber will also fill you up for awhile, Ewoldt says.
Some examples: fruits, nuts or nut butter, low-fat string cheese or Greek yogurt, pea pods (like edamame), and fruits and vegetables. You could aim for a couple hundred calories, Ewoldt says, but first listen to your hunger cues. “Eat to the point of being pleasantly satisfied,” Jones says, adding that while this will be different for each person, you should never reach the point of being uncomfortably full.
6. If you’re not ready to say goodbye to your favorite snacks, you can just try portioning them out.
While the goal should be to snack better, you can technically still snack mindfully and reduce caloric intake on that giant bag of chips or candy or what-have-you — just portion it out instead of eating straight from the package, Ewoldt says.
This way you have a predetermined amount of food that’s available to you. “You can eat the whole thing in five minutes or 50 minutes. It doesn’t matter because it’s already pre-portioned into a serving,” he says. “Once that’s gone, that tells you that you ate your snack.”
But remember, processed snacks won’t keep you as full as a balanced whole foods snack, so maybe don’t exclusively snack on them.
Read full article at: BuzzFeedNews