When you’re trying to eat healthy or stick to a diet, there’s one thing that might be standing in your way: a snack attack. Here are five unhealthy snack habits and how you can change them.
Falling Victim to the Vending Machine
Vending machines are a snacker’s paradise. If it’s difficult for you to avoid their lure, you could end up completely derailing any diet you have in place or otherwise healthy eating. If there’s a vending machine taunting you every day – such as at work or school – it can be even worse.
Try to avoid buying snacks in between meals by eating more protein-rich foods. If you really can’t help yourself, try to choose the healthiest snack available, like packages of nuts or whole-grain crackers.
Overdoing It with Healthy Snacks
Lots of people think that if they’re eating a healthy food, it just can’t be bad for them. Unfortunately, even healthy foods in large quantities can be harmful to your waistline. Nuts, for example, are very high in calories and fat. In small servings, they’re excellent for you and great snack choices, but it’s easy to overdo it. Stick to servings of about one-third of a cup, or try to replace the extra nuts you want to eat with some fresh fruit or a yogurt.
Snacking Too Much and Eating Smaller Meals
Some people prefer to just eat small portions throughout the day rather than just a few big meals. That’s perfectly fine, and it can be a very healthy way of eating. If you’re snacking too much, however, without paying any attention to what and how much you’re eating, it can be a disaster. In order for snacks and smaller meals to be a truly healthy eating style for you, you need to think about what you’re eating. Because you’re eating smaller amounts at one time, you might think you’re eating less overall, but that line of thinking makes it easy to eat too much without even realizing it.
Eating Frequent Midnight Snacks
Midnight snacking is a terrible snack habit, but lots of people do it rather than go to bed hungry. If you stay up very late at night – well after dinnertime – you may get hungry again. If you do, try to eat something small, light, and healthy, like a cup of yogurt or piece of fruit. To help combat late-night hunger, add more protein or fiber to your dinner. Hearty additions like beans can help you feel fuller longer, and you might be able to get to bed without eating again.
Snacking Soon After Lunch
After your lunch or lunch break at work, you should feel satisfied for a while, possibly until it’s time for dinner. If you want to snack again just two or three hours after lunch, you’re likely not eating a well-balanced lunch that contains a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Rethinking your lunchtime meals may help you avoid a soon-after snack that could be adding many more calories to your diet than you really need.
Chelsea Smith is a medical student at the University of Texas and a freelance writer who understands how hard altering snack habits can be. She loves to write about health and she recently wrote a great piece on nutrition in nuts.