Do you find you just can't stop snacking? Eating and drinking between regular meals is something many of us find irresistible - especially when there's tasty food or drinks around.
The most common reason for snacking is to satisfy hunger. But other factors such as the social setting and the availability of food also come into play. And people often snack when they're not hungry, out of habit, because they're bored, or to satisfy an emotional need.
While some people believe that eating small, frequent meals is good for them, others worry that snacking makes it harder to lose weight. When we talk about snack foods, highly-processed items such as crisps, doughnuts, and cola are often the first items that come to mind. But snack foods don't have to be unhealthy - you can also snack on fruit, nuts, seeds, veggie sticks, and hummus.
While it's often believed that eating five or six small meals throughout the day helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, this isn't necessarily true.
Some studies have shown that those with type 2 diabetes have better insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels and improved weight loss when they eat two large meals daily. However, other research indicated no difference in blood sugar levels when the overall amount of calories consumed per day remains the same, whether taken in two large meals or in smaller snacks.
If you opt to eat several snacks instead of a large meal, choose high fibre, low carb foods and those high in protein as they can be beneficial in stabilising blood sugar.
So you've promised yourself you'll stop snacking, but you're still finding it hard to avoid the biscuit tin! Here are some tips to make it easier to stick to your resolution.
Bach Flowers Mix 51 can help boost your self-discipline and support you while you change your eating habits. This blend of Bach Flowers also reduces feelings of guilt if you do succumb to temptation, so you're less likely to give up.
If you're trying to snack less, it's essential to eat enough at mealtimes to satisfy your hunger. So make sure your meals contain the proteins, carbohydrates and fats your body needs to function well. Then, your craving for snacks should stop. How much should you eat? It's different for everyone and will depend on your activity levels, age and sex. Those with a very active lifestyle need more calories than those with a sedentary job.
Make a meal plan so that you know what you're going to eat and when you're going to eat it. Choose your snack food and divide it into portions, so you're not tempted to overindulge. So for cheese, cut it into small cubes and store them in the fridge in small containers. You can do the same for raisins, nuts and seeds. This way, you can enjoy a snack while allowing for it in your daily calorie intake, and it won't ruin your weight loss diet.
Some people find that eating several smaller meals per day works better than having two or three larger meals. Doing this boosts your metabolism and helps control blood sugar levels, avoiding the lows that can make you crave a sugary snack.
If you feel hungry between meals, drink a glass of water. Often, when you think you're hungry, you're really just thirsty. So wait for fifteen minutes after drinking, then decide if you're still feeling hungry for a snack or whether you can wait for the next mealtime.
If there are times when you must have something sweet, replace that chocolate bar with a healthier option. Try an apple, banana or a handful of grapes. Or opt for a snack with healthy fats, such as a few nuts or an avocado. Peel a banana, wrap it in foil and freeze for a healthy alternative to ice cream.
When you feel like snacking, stop and ask yourself whether you're actually hungry or just feeling bored? If you're bored, look for a distraction. See below:
When the craving for a snack strikes, do something to distract yourself. Take a bath, go for a walk, read a book or catch up with the ironing. It doesn't matter what you do. As long as you do something to disrupt your thought patterns, your cravings will disappear.
It's well known that keeping track of the calories you consume in a day makes you more conscious of what you eat, so you tend to eat less. So keep a food diary and record your daily intake, including any snacks.
Put snacks out of reach so you can't grab them so quickly. Divide snacks up and store them in portion-sized boxes or bags so that you have to consciously make an effort to open something to get at them. Doing this will avoid any "snacksidents", such as eating a whole pack of chocolate Hobnobs in one go.
Last but not least: don't deny yourself anything completely. If you've been good all week and avoided snacking, reward yourself at the weekend with a square or two of chocolate or your favourite crisps. If you completely rule out any snacking, you're more likely to succumb to temptation and wolf down a family-sized bag of crisps or a giant chocolate bar. So don't forbid yourself anything; instead, set limits. Everyone deserves a treat once in a while!
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