Have you ever wondered why snacks lean towards both the healthy and not-so-healthy side? A snack is anything you eat between main meals. Many of us indulge in snacks more than once a day, and most times, it goes with distraction. We don’t only snack when we’re hungry; we also snack when we’re bored, to distract us while working or watching movies, or just by seeing something that triggers our interest. We often act as though snacks are no meals at all! Subconsciously, they don’t count on our health and fitness journey. While snacking can boost your energy levels, it is important that you make intelligent snack choices depending on your health goals; do you gain weight or lose it? Are you trying to manage your blood sugar or blood pressure? Whatever goal you have, snacking can help you achieve or obstruct it.
For instance, if you are trying to keep your blood cholesterol and blood pressure down, you shouldn’t go for a highly processed biscuit full of sugar and saturated fat. Your snacks should improve your overall diet quality. Likewise, if you want to lose weight, munching on a bottle of nuts while working will not help you achieve your goal even though it’s healthy. One handful of nuts contains between 160 and 200 calories, so imagine calories in half a bottle….This is where I give you the knowing side-eye. So how can you practice mindful, intelligent, and intentional snacking, especially if you want to lose weight? Here are a few tips!
- Pause: take three breaths before taking that snack. This helps to initiate mindful eating and regulate your nervous system. When you pause, you’re able to do the next step.
- Ask WHY: why do you want this snack? Are you hungry or bored, or do you just like the snack? Do you wish to have fun? How will this snack affect your health goals? Answer these questions mindfully before going ahead with the snack.
- Watch out for the type of snacks: There are no good or bad foods or snacks when it comes to healthy eating. Only foods to be taken regularly and occasionally. While it is easy to pick up cookies, chips, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, crackers, and cake, limiting them to occasions or occasionally due to their high sugar and fat content is better. Be mindful about nourishing your body with snacks such as fruits, salads, nuts, milk, cheese, homemade oat cookies, etc. Also, healthier snack options can help to keep you full for a longer time due to the high protein and dietary fiber content and prevent you from overeating on your next meal, unlike highly processed foods.
- Watch your portion size: As said earlier, even healthy foods like nuts, avocados, and olive oil can make you gain weight. And eating just one slice of cake when you crave it may not be a wrong choice. The missing puzzle is the amount you decide to eat. This is where the knowledge of food labels may help you. What is the calorie per serving of the snack, and how much can you eat without compromising your health goals? This is so important if you want to do smart snacking. A general rule is to aim for 150-250 calories per snack. This could be a cup of Greek yogurt and apple, one ear of corn and two pieces of African pear, one thin slice of cake, a portion of cheese and whole grain crackers, a few baby carrots, 2 cups of popcorn, and 1 cup of fresh fruit juice e.tc.
- Reduce distractions: there is no better way to eat overeat than when you’re talking with a friend, watching movies, listening to music, or working on your system. It may be good to take a break from the activities or put the exact portion you want to eat before you.
- Be in touch with your emotions: This is the aspect of mindful eating that you may find probably ridiculous yet rewarding. It’s essential to know how what you eat makes you feel. Don’t just rush the snack; chew slowly and savor the experience. This helps you practice mental awareness and could be transformative especially transferred to every aspect of your life. Say yes to being intentional about everything!
Whatever your health goals are, conscious and mindful snacking can help you achieve them. Take every snack opportunity to nourish your body because what you put in your body over time is the reflection you will see in the mirror. You are what you eat, so make intentional and intelligent snack choices!
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