Stop snacking for a change, just stop it already! It is easy for me to say that, I can stop snacking anytime I want to, right? Wrong! I cannot stop snacking, but the real question here is whether you should stop snacking or not. Should you stop snacking? And what is wrong with me? Why can’t I stop snacking?
It is not that I cannot stop snacking, I can – it is just that I do not want to become a victim of what can be described as misguided mainstream nutritional dogma. You know, “snacking is bad for you,” “you will gain weight if you snack frequently,” etc.
In short, snacking is good for you in many ways. You should not be thinking about how to stop snacking, just the opposite, but, as always, there is a catch – if your snacking strategy pretty much revolves around frequent trips to the candy jar, you will be disappointed.
The trick is to learn about the right snacks and the right times to eat them. So which snacks are good for you? You should always choose snacks that are nutritionally dense. For example, baby carrots and some sort of berries are always good. Yogurt with some raw nuts or seeds is also an excellent option.
Apple slices with peanut butter or a homemade protein shake are my personal favorites. Use your imagination! The point is to choose something nutritious and to avoid foods that are high in sugar and unrefined carbohydrates.
Stop snacking if you snack poorly The only reason to stop snacking completely is when you just cannot manage to find healthy snacks. Many snacks seem harmless (think pretzels, chips, cheap protein bars, etc), but they are loaded with empty calories, which will leave you hungry soon after you eat them.
Stop “mindless” snacking Try to identify what is commonly described as “mindless” or emotional snacking. Are you bored? Tired? Upset? Come up with an alternative activity – maybe call a friend, read a book or simply wait for a few minutes – once you resist that initial temptation, the cravings should pass.
What if I do not snack? If you go more than 4 hours or so without any food, there is a very good chance that your blood sugar will drop, which is almost a guarantee that you will be tempted to overeat at your next meal.
Should I stop snacking at night? Not necessarily. While it is true that your metabolism slows down at night, it is also true that your total daily calorie intake ultimately determines whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight. Therefore, if you undereat during the day and eat late at night, you can still lose or maintain your weight, assuming you do not cross your calorie threshold.
That said, if you are hungry at night, you probably do not eat enough during the day, or maybe you do not eat frequently enough – either way, the fix is simple – make sure you eat a large breakfast and try to include high-fiber vegetables and some kind of protein in all your meals. Oh, and do not forget about snacking!