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When it comes to weight loss, it’s best to stick to three square meals and avoid snacking as much as possible.
But if chosen carefully, the occasional snack won’t hinder your weight loss goals. Snacks can be useful if you’re particularly hungry and need something small and nutritious to tide you over until your next meal.
Plus, a small real food snack can provide you with valuable nutrients that stop you from becoming so ravenous that you eat too much at the next meal.
Avoid these snacking pitfalls
1. Snacking for the wrong reasons
We don’t always snack because we’re truly hungry. Often, we snack because we’re influenced by other factors, such as boredom, stress, food availability (because someone at the office brought in those cupcakes again!) or habit.
But these are all the wrong reasons. It’s totally fine to enjoy a treat every now and again or have a slice of birthday cake when celebrations arise. But for the most part, you should only snack when you’re physically hungry.
Regularly snacking when you’re not hungry may mean that you end up eating more than you need. This is likely to stall your weight-loss goals, as snacks are usually not compensated for when it comes to the next meal.
2. Choosing the wrong kind of snacks
It’s not just about when you snack. It’s equally important to be mindful of what you snack on.
Packaged snack foods – think crisps, chocolate bars and cereal bars – are heavily processed and loaded with refined carbohydrates, sugar and salt.
Rather than leaving you full and satisfied, these types of snacks may send your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster and leave you feeling hungrier than you were before.
The good news? There are loads of very tasty yet nutrient-dense foods to snack on that’ll truly curb your hunger pangs. We’ll share some of our go-to ideas below.
3. Not fuelling your body with the right foods
Low energy levels and constant hunger make snacking much more tempting. This can happen if your previous meal was high in refined carbohydrates or sugar, as you’re likely to be left feeling hungry for more.
Avoid this by enjoying meals with the right balance of macronutrients. Ideally, every meal should include a source of protein, a good amount of fibre and a small serving of healthy fats. This will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help to curb the temptations.
Having Purition for breakfast (or lunch, if that suits you better) can also help with the hunger pangs that can lead to unnecessary snacking.
4. Mistaking thirst for hunger
It’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger. You might find that you feel hungry and reach for a snack, when in fact, you just haven’t been drinking enough. The signals can feel very similar!
If you’re feeling peckish and haven’t drunk much fluid recently, have a glass of water and wait for 15-20 minutes or so to see how you feel. If you do find that it helps, it’s a sign that you might not be drinking enough water day-to-day.
Tips for smarter snack choices
1. Out of sight, out of mind
If there are doughnuts in the cupboard, most of us will be tempted to eat the doughnut – it’s human nature!
So if you’re prone to snacking out of boredom or habit, it could be best to stop buying ultra-processed packaged snack foods altogether.
Often, it really is as simple as out of sight, out of mind.
2. Be mindful
Be mindful about how often you snack and try not to make snacking a part of your daily routine.
When you reach for a snack, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry. A rumbling stomach, a lack of energy or feeling ‘hangry’ are all good signs that you could genuinely benefit from a snack.
And if you do need a snack, choose a snack-sized portion. A snack is not a meal. It should be enough to satisfy your hunger, but not so much that it interferes with your appetite for your next meal or adds too many calories.
3. Know your healthy snacks
Choose a few healthy snack options and add them to your weekly shopping list. That way, when you do need a snack, you’ll be prepared with a healthy and nutritious choice.
- A handful of nuts or seeds
- A small bowl of olives
- A boiled or scrambled egg
- A cup of ‘kale chips’
- A handful of berries
- Half a tin of tuna
- A thumb-sized piece of cheese
- 20g Purition with plain or Greek yoghurt
- 75g cottage cheese with flax & cinnamon
- 1-2 squares of 70%+ dark chocolate
- 50g hummus with carrot and/or celery sticks
- Mozzarella with cherry tomatoes
- Half cup steamed edamame beans
- Half an avocado sprinkled with spices
This blog is part 6 of 11 of our healthy eating & lifestyle for weight loss series.
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