Snacking throughout the day is good for your metabolism and helps to prevent dramatic spikes in hunger, but it’s still possible to go overboard. So check your snacking habits: Are you an over-snacker?
1) You always grab refined carbs
It’s easy to over-munch on high-carb snacks like crackers, pretzels and baked goods. These low-fiber foods don’t have enough substance to keep you full between meals, which can lead to more and more snacking. Pair these foods with higher protein fare like hummus or peanut butter for longer lasting energy.
2) You only snack late at night
Snacking throughout the day can help curb hunger in-between meals but waiting until after dinner to hit the snack drawer can lead to extra calories (and extra pounds). Folks also tend to hit up less-than-healthy options like cookies and ice cream while watching TV in the evening. Occasionally a late-night snack is a good idea but you’ve got to make it a healthy one: Choose yogurt, fruit or a small bowl of cereal.
3) Your weight won’t budge
Despite diet and exercise modifications you’re stuck at the same weight. It’s possible you’re taking in too many extra calories from snacks. Get in a small snack mid-morning and another between lunch and dinner–that’s probably all you need.
4) You’re not hungry for meals
Snacks are supposed to help get from meal to meal, not replace meals altogether. And it’s easier than you think to eat a meal’s worth of calories in a snack. Shoot for about 150 to 200 calories for snacks and save the rest of your daily calories for well-balanced meals.
5) You don’t measure
Even healthy snacks like nuts, peanut butter, granola and low-fat cheese can cause trouble in the calorie department. Pay attention to portions and measure out an appropriate amount to avoid mindless shoveling.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »