My friend e-mailed me the other day with a suggestion for a post that I thought was a great topic. I present to you my totally non-authoritative advice on how to avoid unhealthy mid-day snacks. We can also call this post, How Allie Stopped Snacking On Everything Just Um Because.
- Are you actually hungry? Or are you maybe thirsty? One of the best pieces of dieting advice I have ever gotten was one of the simplest. Often people’s bodies confuse hunger with thirst. If you feel hungry, but have eaten somewhat recently, try drinking a glass of water to see if you are actually thirsty. Turns out I’m a lot thirsty than I ever realized!
- Eat a filling lunch. We all know that you can eat more of some foods than others for the same amount of calories. But also, some foods are just more long-lasting than others. My current favorite long-lasting foods are beans and chickpeas (which I never can decide if they are beans or not). They are seriously filling and can bulk up many a meal. Eat beans in a salad, burrito, pasta, etc. or eat them on their own like my roasted chickpeas. The more filling your lunch is, the less likely you will be craving junk at 3PM.
- Have a plan. It’s absolutely fine to have an afternoon snack. I am of the late dinner eaters, so I tend to always have a snack between lunch and dinner. I have found, though, that it’s best to think about what that snack will be beforehand. If you plan on having a snack at work/school, bring it with you. If you plan on waiting until you get home, think about what you’ll have on your commute. Better yet, prep it the night before and have it waiting for you in the kitchen. This way, you won’t manically grab at whatever you find before you have to run to take the dog for a walk. Or maybe that’s just I problem I used to have …
- Pick out fun snacks. Once again, afternoon snacks are fine, as long as they aren’t empty calories in high quantity. When you plan, make sure you pick out snacks you actually like to eat. If not, one of three things will happen: 1) You will skip that snack all together, waste the food, and find something unhealthy to eat instead 2)You will eat that snack, be unsatisfied, and then go find another snack 3) You won’t eat at all even though you are hungry and will just be a cranky. No one likes a crank. I used to do this all the time, too. The night before I would say, “oh celery sticks would be great tomorrow.” Then tomorrow would come, and I would be totally confused why I ever thought plain old celery sticks were a good idea. Now, I think about what I really would like to eat. I will pair celery sticks with a tsp of crunchy peanut butter, or my current favorite, cream cheese. Right now, I have a 100 Cal brownie waiting for me for later.
- Stop and think. Sometimes you aren’t hungry and you aren’t thirsty. You are just plain old bored. This is a problem I have suffered from a lot in the past. My trick? If you find yourself going to the cupboard because you have nothing better to do, and um, eating can be fun, get unbored! Go exercise, call a friend, wrestle with your pup. Don’t eat just to past the time. This was my biggest pitfall, and I actively scold myself when I try to do it now.
What do you do to avoid munching on unhealthy mid-day snacks?