Most everyone gets hungry between meals -- I know I do. But snacking can add way too many calories to a daily total. Here are a few helpful tips about how to snack wisely, from my standby source, Eating Well Magazine.
Keep chewing. One study found that people who chewed almonds thoroughly (up to 40 chews) felt full longer than those who chewed the same amount of nuts fewer times.
Snack on citrus. Grapefruit’s “diet food” rep might be justified: one study found that when people simply ate grapefruit with each meal, they lost up to 3 1/2 pounds over three months. Grapefruit may help manage appetite by lowering insulin levels, say researchers.
Keep chickpeas in the pantry. They have a meaty texture and a nutty flavor along with plenty of satiating fiber and a little protein—perfect when you’re watching your weight.
Toss grapes in the freezer for an easy snack. Because they’re sweet and you savor them individually and slowly, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction for just a handful of calories.
Include a treat every day. Believe it or not, giving yourself little treats may be the secret to losing weight—for good. Aiming to be “too good” sets you up to fail. If you like a glass of wine with dinner, make room for it. Prefer dessert? Skip the drink and go for a low-calorie chocolate treat instead.
Snack (and multitask) mindfully. Munching mindlessly in front of the TV is a surefire way to gain unnecessary pounds—but that doesn’t mean you can never enjoy your favorite program over a bowl of freshly popped popcorn or (fill in your favorite snack). Instead of popping a big bag of microwave popcorn, for example, choose a “mini” 100-calorie bag. And be sure to account for those calories elsewhere in your day.
Use snacks to fill nutritional gaps. Make your snacks count. Choose those that provide calcium and fiber—two nutrients that people often skimp on. Two snacks to try: a cup of yogurt with a half-cup of whole-grain cereal mixed in, or a skim latte plus an apple.
Brown-bag your snack. Skip the vending machine and satisfy the afternoon “munchies” with a healthy snack you packed at home. You’ll save money and get a bigger bang for your nutritional buck. Try an ounce of almonds and an orange or a handful of pretzels with some hummus. Planning snacks that provide both carbohydrates and protein will help tide you over until dinner.
Choose your “midnight” snack wisely. If a good night’s sleep is what you crave, there may be a food combination to help. Specialists recommend a pre-slumber snack that’s rich in carbohydrates and contains a bit of protein; this combination is said to increase the tryptophan levels in the brain, causing you to sleep more soundly. Try low-fat yogurt with a sprinkle of granola, a small bowl of oatmeal or a sliced apple with a bit of peanut butter.
Don’t get tripped up by travel. However often you fly, prepare in advance so you’ll have healthy snacks to eat en route. For shorter flights, pack a quarter-cup of dried fruit, such as apricots, a handful of almonds and a few whole-wheat crackers as healthier alternatives to the salty snacks served in-flight. Sip plenty of water; low humidity and recirculating cabin air can be dehydrating.