Friday, April 11, 2014

Battle the Snack Attack

A lot of times, its not our planned meals that are the problem, but rather our snacking in between.  There are lots of reasons why we reach for an unhealthy snack.  We might be anxious or stressed or have low blood sugar.  It might be for other emotional reasons like sadness or loneliness, even boredom.  It can also be lack of planning.  Nutritionists recommend three meals a day and two snacks, so it's not the snacking that's a problem, its our choices (more on that later).

If your reason for snacking is compulsive and you're not really hungry, here are a few strategies you can use to beat the snack attack.

Exercise - It may be the last thing you want to do, but when you feel like reaching for the chips or cookies, tell yourself that you'll do some quick exercise first--walk around the block, do some jumping jacks, work in the yard, etc. The activity will release certain hormones that will calm your cravings and make you feel less hungry.  If you decide after you exercise to go ahead and snack, you'll be more inclined to make healthier choices.

Drink Water - Try drinking a big glass of water. Filling up your stomach might signal your brain that you’re full and help with the cravings. Adding some flavor, like lemon, cucumber, or mint, can help satisfy the cravings as well.

Have a Cheat Meal - Life is all about balance, and as long as you’re making healthy choices the majority of the time, a snack here and there isn't going to hurt you. Some people use a cheat meal in their lives to keep them on track.  It's a mental trick that works for some.When you feel the urge to snack, try reminding yourself of an upcoming cheat meal.

Keep Your Eye on the Goal - Remind yourself why you are doing this. Have it posted somewhere in your home or office where you can look at your inspirations and goals, and really let it sink in why you’re trying to stay on track.

So, you've tried these strategies and realize you still want a snack or, better yet, you are planning your daily  healthy snacks, what are some healthy choices?  There’s a reason we have taste buds. Food is supposed to be enjoyable. It doesn't have to taste like cardboard to be healthy. You might have to experiment a little to find it, but there are plenty of great-tasting, healthy snack options out there that will satisfy your craving. Here are a few.

  • apple and peanut or almond butter
  • mixed nuts
  • blueberries in plain Greek yogurt
  • roasted cauliflower dipped in a healthy ranch dip (using Greek yogurt)
  • steamed edamame w/chili powder
  • bell pepper slices dipped in hummus
  • kale chips
  • popcorn - spice it up by spraying air-popped popcorn with a little olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with the spice of your choice--garlic, onion salt, cayenne pepper, five-spice mix, cumin, curry or a small amount of Parmesan.
  • Cottage Cheese and Berries

Just Get Through the Moment - When cravings hit, your internal dialogue can be like a battle. Tell yourself “I will choose my health in this moment” and it will feel much less overwhelming than “I have to do this forever”.

What if the Cravings Win the Battle -  You ate the cookies, or the chips, or the chocolate bar, or maybe all of the above. Do not give up. Do not beat yourself up. Remind yourself that you are worth being healthy, wipe the slate clean, and start over as soon as possible. Learn from your mistake, use it to teach yourself what your weaknesses are so that you can plan for them in the future.

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