Just about everyone enjoys snacking. While snacking is an important part of a healthy diet, it becomes a problem when we can’t control the urge to stop – or, when we choose the wrong foods to snack on. Unfortunately, most of us have a hard time controlling what we eat as well as how much we eat.
Most experts agree that one of the biggest culprits for the urge to snack are the swings in blood sugar levels. ISSA certified personal trainer and nutrition expert Jeffery Rowe notes, “When someone is having frequent sugar cravings, it usually means that they have significant swings in their blood sugar levels, because of the ingestion of refined carbs, & the ensuing large surge of insulin that this creates. This insulin not only ‘mops’ up the sugar you just consumed, but also depletes too much of your normal blood sugar levels. This is when you get the craving.”
To accomplish your healthy eating and weight loss goals as part of your arsenal against the snacking urge, include the following tips suggested by health and nutrition experts as well as those who have achieved successful weight loss:
Eat plenty of fiber
Rowe says that one of the best ways to fight blood sugar swings is to eat plenty of fiber as it helps to stabilize blood sugar so that you won’t get those dramatic swings that lead to cravings. He recommends consuming at least 25 grams of fiber in your meals and snacks throughout the day.
Bring healthy snacks while on the go
Keeping easy-to-reach healthy snacks with you while you’re at work or on the go, like a handful of mixed raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts, along with a piece of fruit, is a great way to stave off cravings and resist the urge to turn to something that will throw your blood sugar levels out of whack.
Pairing fruit with protein and/or healthy fats is one of the best ways to fight those blood sugar swings.
Drink lots of water
Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. Carry a water bottle with you and sip throughout the day to fight dehydration. Even just mild dehydration, slows down circulation, and thereby the delivery of oxygen to the muscle which can significantly deplete energy reserves, negatively impacting will power.
Take a walk
When you start craving an unhealthy snack like a candy bar or chips, take a walk to get your mind off of it. Even just a walk around the block or through your office building may be enough to control that urge.
Don’t wait too long in-between meals
Don’t set yourself up for severe hunger pangs that will leave you reaching for whatever happens to be near. Experts say that if you wait too long between meals, you’re more likely to choose sugary foods or processed, fatty foods to stop the hunger. Eating every three to five hours is a good way to keep blood sugar levels stable and avoid unwanted eating behavior.
Curbing late night binges
If you tend to snack late at night, consider moving your dinner later by an hour. For example, you might want to eat at 7 instead of 6. Consuming a fiber-rich dinner that includes healthy fats and protein will also help you to be less likely to get hungry before bedtime.
If you still have the urge to eat, try sipping on a cup of flavored tea, like an organic peppermint or orange tea.