Munching on a few, well-planned snacks scattered throughout the day can work in your favor when it comes to controlling weight. Healthy snacks help to keep your blood sugar stable and ward off cravings that motivate you to raid the vending machine. On the other hand, don’t make these snacking snafus or you could end up a few pounds heavier. Here are five snacking mistakes to make only at your own risk.
You know the routine. You’re totally wrapped up entering data onto the computer, and you mindlessly scoop your hand into a bag of munchies. One way to stop this kind of mindless munching is to make it more of a challenge. Don’t keep unhealthy snacks stashed in your drawer at work or setting out on your desk where they’re an easy reach. Better yet, keep all snacks stored away so you have to do a little work to get to them. Plan your snacks at regular intervals to break the habit of mindless snacking.
Snacking When You’re Stressed
When things get hectic, do you reach for a bag of potato chips or pretzels? Stress boosts the body’s production of stress hormones like cortisol that increase cravings for high-carb foods. A handful of chips or popcorn may give you a temporary boost, but snacking on high-glycemic carbs can come back to bite you when your blood sugars take a dive later on. When the going gets tough, take a brisk walk to ease tension or call up a friend and blow off steam. Don’t use food as a tool to relieve stress.
Leaving Snacking Open-Ended
The worst way to snack is to plop down with an open bag of munchies. Nuts are a good-for-you snack, but it’s easy to overeat them. Practice portion control by getting a kitchen scale. Use it to make your own 100-calorie snack packs. There’s a reason why 100-calorie snack packs are such hot sellers, but you can make them inexpensively at home. Fill your snack packs with options like nuts, seeds or soy nuts rather than less nutritious choices like chips, cookies, brownie bites and pretzels.
Snacking When You Aren’t Hungry
This is another snack habit that makes it hard to control your weight. Some people snack when they’re bored and when they have nothing more pressing to do. Get this bad snack habit under control by training yourself to rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5 before putting anything into your mouth. If you’re not at least a 3, find something else to do. This is a time when a brisk walk or other distraction can keep you out of trouble.
Snacking Because Something is “Free”
How many times has a well-meaning co-worker dropped a box of doughnuts in front of you encouraging you to eat “just one?” Office break rooms are a minefield of snack temptations. What about the samples that are carefully laid out for you at the grocery store? Somewhere in the back of your mind, you may think the calories don’t count because they’re free. Don’t get sucked in. Keep a food diary and force yourself to write down every bite you eat for a few weeks. When you do, you’ll become a lot more conscious of how those bites add up.
The Bottom Line?
Don’t let these five bad snack habits add to your “bottom” line. Plan your snacks, and then snack your plan. Don’t let mindless and stress-related snacking get in the way of controlling your weight.