Losing weight is not just a matter of exercising and picking the right breakfast, dinner and lunch. Most of us have snacks, and you can’t just quit having them because you want to lose weight.
There are two primary reasons for snacking – hunger and boredom. Dealing with “hunger” snacks and “boredom” snacks require different strategies.
How To Stop Snacking Out of Boredom: Weight Loss Strategies
Almost all of us snack out of boredom at some point or the other. When you’re not sure about what to do next, it’s all too easy to grab a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate.
If you’re snacking out of boredom or other emotional needs, then the easiest thing to do is to become massively, insanely busy. Of course, that’s not necessarily the healthiest option either, and sometimes it’s hard to get so busy.
What I like to do to prevent boredom or emotional snacking is to keep myself busy with non-caloric “snacks”.
- Sugarfree gum
Many people keep themselves occupied by chewing on sugarfree gum or other sugarfree or low-calorie mints. This can be a good strategy if you feel the need to chew something.Personally I’m not a big fan of sugarfree gums and mints. For one, I’m pretty sure all these artificial things are very unhealthy and I’m trying to eat more healthy things. But most importantly I don’t like gum as a way of distracting myself – it’s not much of a “treat” for me.
- Sugar-free beverages This is my vice of choice and I find it works well to distract myself.
I am a complete coffee snob: I am obsessed with high quality coffee. So it won’t surprise you at that I drink 2 to 3 (max) cups a day. I also drink a lot of decaf, since I love the taste of coffee but obviously can’t allow myself 6 cups a day.
I also drink a variety of teas during the week. I am trying to go back to drinking green tea, and have 1 to 2 cups a day. Green tea has the added benefit of killing any sugar cravings. I’m not sure if this is a property of green tea or it’s just me. I’ve found that I get this only after drinking green tea made with loose leaves. I don’t use green tea “teabags”.
I also have lemon tea (made without honey or sugar). I love citrus flavours, and while lemon tea can be a bit strong, I love the smell and taste.
I also have some herbal teas occasionally. The trick is to buy extremely high-quality teas from specialty stores. I also find that Lipton makes some nice herbal teas which are quite inexpensive.
I do love the taste of these hot drinks and since each drink takes me 10 – 20 minutes to finish, I do a pretty good job of staving off the boredom munchies! Because I love the taste of these drinks, I also feel like I’m treating myself. This is another important thing to do when you’re dieting or trying to lose weight – whenever you start getting that “GAAAH I’M DEPRIVING MYSELF AND LIFE IS SO HARD AND I CAN’T EAT ANYTHING I LIKE” feeling, you know you’re about to give up – so make sure you never get there!
During the summer I drink soda water with a dash of lemon – though these days I’m not having much of that since I’m so pleased with my hot drinks! Some nights I also make myself girly “mocktails” which are mainly soda water, with just a drop of some juice, such as cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is actually the lowest-sugar juice and has various health benefits for women – but most days I stick to just a few drops, enough to color the water and impart a slight flavor, but not enough to pack on the calories.
- Drink plenty of water Yes, you’ve probably heard this one often, but drink lots of water.
Water will help you feel more full and keep you hydrated – both very important when you’re trying to lose weight and stay on a diet. I also need to drink plenty of water since I have lots of coffee and decaf, both of which are said to be diuretic and leave you dehydrated – so my rule of thumb is to have one glass of water for every glass of coffee or decaf.
The trick to drinking plenty of water is to make it easy for yourself, and make it seem attractive and fun.
I do this by keeping a gorgeous hand-blown glass carafe and a nice wine glass on my desk at all times. The pretty glassware make even a simple drink of water seem like a treat. I’m a fan of Hollywood glamor, so I like all the fancy glass stuff – you may have different tastes, but your glassware should reflect your tastes. For instance, you could drink out of big mugs or mugs that have a picture or text that you like.
I’ve also found that water tastes much better when it’s at the right temperature. I’ve found that different people have different temperature preferences – some people love chilled water while some like slightly warm water. Personally, I like the taste of water best when it’s slightly chilled but not too cold.
As you can see, all these liquids keep me pretty busy so that I don’t get much of a chance to do emotional snacking. Keep your drinks handy – you won’t be having them if they’re too far away or too difficult to drink. If you spend most of your time at work, keep a nice bottle at your desk, and be prepared to make tea or coffee quickly without your boss noticing you’re away in the kitchen!
Healthy Snacks For When You’re Hungry: More Weight Loss Strategies
Most people at multiple times a day. I’m one of those people.
So it’s essential to have snacks in between main meals.
Especially if you’re counting calories – your snacks should ideally be between 50 – 120 calories. Any more, and you won’t be creating much of a caloric deficit.
The ideal snack (or in general, any healthy food) should be fibre-dense. This means that you’ll feel more full than you would otherwise. For instance, half a small apple and a small square of dark chocolate both have the same amount of calories – but that half apple will leave you feeling more full.
Snack cravings are generally either of the salty or the sweet kind. Identify what type of food you’re craving first, and then eat the appropriate kind of snack.
Also, I like to serve out my snack portion on a plate, so that there’s no chance I overeat.
Healthy Salty Snacks
Nuts, whether peanuts, almonds, pistachios or any other type, are a great kind of salty snack. They contain protein and minerals, and are a healthy choice. However, they’re also rich in fats (albiet, healthy fats) so don’t overeat! 10 peanuts contain 40 calories, 10 almonds contain 80 calories. 10 cashews are almost 200 calories! As I’ve mentioned before, salted peanuts are my snack of choice because they’re so cheap and so low-cal!
5 olives contain 45 calories. Mmm….
- 1 small pretzel
I’m not a pretzel person myself, but if you love them, why not have a small pretzel. Just make sure to check the nutritional label first. Most small pretzels contain only 50 calories.
- 3 Carrot sticks with hummus
Can you believe it, this is only 80 calories! Again, I’m not a fan of the hummus either, but the carrot sticks are quite yum by themselves. I think you could also substitute the hummus for a small amount of any other type of dip… You can also have celery or cucumber sticks instead of carrot sticks. The hubby and I are big fans of capsicum dip – again, remember to only have a small amount of dip! The dip is just the flavor, the main filler are the sticks, which are high in vitamins and fibre.
- Multigrain Crispbread
I used to have crispbread once in a while, but these days I prefer a slice of wholemeal toast. If you top the crispbread with avocado and hummus, it comes to 80 calories. I tend to spread lite olive oil on my toast, and the calories are the same.
- Roast potato slices
If you’re not slathering them with ketchup or deep frying them, potato slices can be quite a healthy treat. Season them with olive oil, salt flakes and rosemary. This treat comes to only 80 calories.
- Cucumber slices with yoghurt
Cucumber goes particularly well with yoghurt. Make sure it’s a small amount on non-fat yoghurt, and add some lemon juice, dill, parsely or coriander to make a nice zesty treat.
So so yummy! Cheese is my salty snack of choice. 1 Laughing Cow Light Swiss Original wedge is only 85 calories. I tend to have lite shredded cheese, a few spoons, spread out on a plate – it makes it seem like so much more! I love cheese…
1 cup unshelled edamame is only 120 calories.
- Pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds comes to only 143 calories. That’s a bit on the high side, but pumpkin calories are also very healthy and a great source of protein. How much of this snack you can eat depends on how many calories you’re eating during the day. If needed, have only 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 a cup.
Healthy Sweet Snacks: Satisfy A Sweet Tooth While Losing Weight!
I have an incredible sweet tooth. People who know me are sometimes surprised that someone who loves sweets as much as I do has managed to slim down so much (and stay slim!)
The trick is all in the substitutions.
Also, I’ve found that reducing refined sugar has really helped me reduce my sugar cravings. I will always love sweet stuff, but I no longer feel the need for a “hit” of sugar. Instead, I indulge in sweet foods and savor the sweet, sweet taste…
Ok, enough blathering from me! Here are my top sweet snacks:
- Dried fruit
Dried fruit is a real winner in my opinion. Not only does it taste great, it’s also healthy and packed with nutrients. More importantly, it’s also full of fibre, which means that it keeps you feeling full for longer.
My favorite dried fruits are dried apricots, pears and apples.
Like everything else, the trick is to ensure that you’re not having too many calories. I try to never eat more than one piece at a time, and never more than 2 or 3 pieces in one day.
Ok, maybe it’s not the healthiest of snacks! But I love chocolate.
The trick is to limit the amount you eat, and to stick to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has so much more flavor than regular chocolate, or chocolate flavored snacks, it almost feels like cheating!
Again, I try not to have more than 1 small square per day, which is the equivalent of 30 calories. Ok, this is more of a dessert than a snack, but I do indulge myself – how else do you think I’ve managed to stay on a strict diet?
Flavored yoghurt is a favorite with the hubby. He likes the fruit flavors, especially the mango flavor.
I’m not such a big fan of flavored yoghurt anymore. I used to be in love with the vanilla and cheesecake flavors, but I think I may have overdone it.
I do like frozen yoghurt as an occasional treat instead of icecream. I also like Greek yoghurt, topped with frozen berries.
This is the ultimate healthy snack or dessert. Please hold off the groaning!
Yes, I used to be like you. I though fruits were the dieter’s dessert, i.e. no real treat could ever be fruit. Fruit was something your parents forced you to eat instead of dessert.
But now, I realize that fruit has its purpose.
I have grown fond of crunchy fruit, like apples (my favorite) or pears, as a midday or post-lunch snack.
Most interestingly, the hubby and I have substituted fruit in place of cake for our weekend desserts. This is shocking when you consider that we tend to “cheat” on weekends. But fruit can be a much more sophisticated and romantic snack than any sugary food!
Like many of the other foods, it’s all in the presentation. We cut up “fancy” fruits like mangoes or melons and put the pieces in a nice, decorative glass bowl – which we dig into together. We share strawberries or cherries, and sometimes add some whipped cream to make it more grown-up. If we have no “fancy” fruits, we just cut up and mix together a bunch of fruits for a pretty fruit salad, sometimes adding lemon juice for an extra citrusy kick – always using the nice serving-ware to make it seem more adult an affair.
Sometimes we just chow down on peaches or nectarines.
If you’d told me even a year ago that I’d be so fond of fruit, I’d have laughed at you. But now, fruit is my favorite healthy snack!
Tips To Keep In Mind For Snacking And Weight Loss
I realize that if you’re snacking at work, you can’t put in much effort towards presentation. But always try your best to make the food look nice – this is a trick I’ve picked up from a super-skinny former-chef friend of mine. I’d normally scoff at this advice as extra, unnecessary effort, but making your food look prettier and more “gourmet” does make it taste better.
With any snack, no matter how “healthy” it is – you’ll have to keep an eye out on the calories and portion size. Portion size is such an important topic that I should probably do a post on it, but for now I’ll just say- eat smaller portions. Use smaller plates and bowls so that it seems like more food and you realize you shouldn’t eat too much.
With any snacks, the key is moderation so don’t grab oily, deep-friend snacks.
Try a bunch of healthy options, see which one you like, and then stock up on it. Keeping healthy snacks (and beverages) nearby will help you stave off those muchies, stay on your diet, and lose weight!
Good luck – and let me know if you have any questions or comments
About Alisha: Alisha is a Melbourne-based blogger who is happy to have lost a lot of weight recently! She is now trying to be more fit and lead a more healthy lifestyle. In this blog she shares tips for losing weight quickly and easily. You can read more about her on the "My Story" page.