Having problems meeting your healthy-eating goals? Do you suffer from snack attacks? Snacks may be hindering your healthy-eating goals. The amount of calories the average American eats in snacks throughout the day now constitutes a fourth meal or about 580 calories.
Part of the problem may be that you can buy snacks anywhere, from the gas station to the office supply store. The more we see snacks, the more likely we are to want to buy them and eat them.
What drives us to eat or want snacks? In a recent study scientists found that rats developed cravings to fatty foods because of the release of chemicals after eating them. Scientists think we have the ability to recognize fat, and we are likely to try to eat as much as possible. Packaged foods and restaurant meals usually have layers of sugar, salt and fat which increase our brain’s craving center to want more. David A. Kessler, MD, in his book The End of Overeating, calls that a vicious cycle of “conditioned overeating.” We see, we want, and we eat = Snack Attack.
So, how do we break the cycle? We need to start taking control of our eating. If we eat only at planned meals and snacks our instinct stops hitting us with triggers to get us to eat more at other times.
- Plan ahead by not having unhealthy snacks in the house.
- Make fruits and vegetables your snacks.
- Avoid packaged goodies. One recent Harris survey found that people usually don’t check the nutritional information on crackers, cakes and candy like they do on canned goods. What are we avoiding?
Beverages account for many snack calories. The sodas, coffee drinks, sports drinks and others add calories and don’t make us satisfied either. Many times we eat something with them, adding more calories.
- Nuts (These are high in fat and calories, so don’t eat too many.)
- Fruits (Apples, pears, oranges, etc.)
- Whole Grains (Try some popcorn without butter or only a little salt.)
- Vegetables (Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
Two small snacks a day (low in calories) can help you control your hunger and be healthy. Plan your snacking instead of eating what you see or smell and giving into snack attacks.
What healthy snacks do you eat?
Kessler, David A., . The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. . When Snacks Attack, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2011, 29 (8) p. 4-5.