Snacking gets me intro trouble. I’m one of those people who goes grocery shopping on an empty stomach (I know, I know) and rips open a box of granola bars right there in the store. And then after dinner the uneaten bars call my name… so I’ll rip into them while watching bad reality TV (I know, I know). And that’s only one of my snacking sins: I also munch mindlessly right out of the package (a big no-no) and routinely grab a handful of chocolate chips even when I’m not hungry.
What about you: What are your snacking sins? Do you have a sweet tooth or a salty streak? Do you munch at the office or on the couch? Or all of the above? We all have food faults; thankfully there are solutions to them all. Read on to decode your snacking personality and discover smart snacking strategies that work…
Your sweet tooth rules
Pitfall: Sugary treats don’t just lead to cavities and afternoon energy slumps; they can raise your risk of heart disease.
Problem solved: Find sweet yet healthy alternatives. Smart swaps: Dried mango, frozen fruit, lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, Greek yogurt flavored with honey. Rule of thumb: Read labels and keep sugar below 15 grams per serving per snack.
You’re a super-sized snacker
Pitfall: Eating endless munchies with no regard for portion can pack on the pounds.
Problem solved: You can have a piled-high plate without the guilt if you choose low energy density foods. These are foods filled with water and fiber that let you consume a larger portion for fewer calories (for example, you can eat 3-4 apples for the calorie price of a chocolate bar). Top suggestions: air-popped popcorn, crunchy veggies dipped in salsa, apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon, watermelon.
You’re a chocoholic
Pitfall: The milk chocolate kind can be swimming in sugar and fat.
Problem solved: Make healthier chocolate choices – like dark chocolate covered cherries. The flavanols in dark chocolate can help your ticker, just try to limit yourself to 3 ounces a day. When that chocolate craving won’t quit, go for a walk. Taking a stroll can reduce chocolate cravings according to a study in Appetite.
You’re a stress snacker
Pitfall: Every time your emotions get the better of you, you grab bad-for-you grub.
Problem solved: Keep a food journal to ID patterns. Other strategies: Wait it out, pick calming eats (a cup of black tea reduces stress hormones) and find new coping tactics. Instead of running for the cheesecake, go for a run, call a friend, flip through a fun magazine, take deep breaths, play Angry Birds.
To be continued… Click back tomorrow if…
Salty snacks are your vice
You graze on your kids’ snacks
You’re a victim of the 3 o’clock snack attack
Watching TV leads to non-stop noshing