3 new snacking rules for weight loss

woman caught snacking

Resolve to ditch your bad snacking habits—and the pounds will start coming off!

I’m not sure about you, but lately I’ve found myself nibbling quite a bit. For starters, there are the kids’ lunches, which I make the night before—a few Goldfish before I put them in my daughter’s lunchbox, a spoonful of peanut butter before I swipe it on my son’s slice of bread…and it doesn’t stop there. Well, my four-year-old left her half-eaten (but still good!, as I told myself) bagel on her plate this morning—and I had to have a bite (well, maybe if I’m being honest here, it was three).

Nibbling is definitely not okay! If I was to add up the calorie tab (which I typically don’t…I mean, really, who does??) on just the snacking I do while I’m standing up, it would come to: Goldfish, Cheddar (70 calories); peanut butter, one tablespoon (about 94 calories); one quarter bagel, with cream cheese (about 120 calories)—so that’s 284 calories, not including other nibbles and meals (which are so easy to forget when you’re doing it mindlessly as I am).

Honesty is also typically lacking in the case of stand-up snacking, as I call it­—as is a reliable memory. Most of us aren’t as honest about what  (or how much) we actually eat. And each bite counts here as it all adds up over time.

I’m already trying to lose an extra 20 pounds in baby weight—so I’m not sure why I think I can afford to eat these extra (and completely unnecessary) calories.  So I’m putting new 2012 rules into effect; these will work for anyone struggling with a case of too much snacking like I am:

1) NO SNACKING unless I’m eating off a plate AND sitting down at the table. This is a good rule for anyone keeping tabs on his/her weight—and ensures that eating is a purposeful and satisfying ritual, not a mindless or nervous habit. If you’re making the effort to do this, you must really be hungry (avoiding the on-the-way-out-the-door nibbling…and extra calories). It’s not easy, but I’m committed. (I’m sure that I’ll have a few slip-ups every now and then, but key thing is to just try and try again until it becomes a habit). Just think, if I continue at this rate, I’ll put on a pound every 12 days—and about 30 pounds over the course of a year!

2) EAT PROPER MEALS. When I’m nibbling, I find myself skipping lunch (who needs the extra calories? I think to myself). But skipping meals is one of the worst habits to get into because it sets you up for hunger later on—and more snacking. Eat a proper meal (always with protein and a few carbs) and you’ll be satisfied—and have the willpower to not nibble later on.

3) SKIP SUGARY SNACKS. Empty carbs (think: cookies, cake, candy, and any processed sweets) do absolutely nothing for you; in fact, they set up you for an energy spike—and then a crash. I know why I’m reaching for these quick fixes: I haven’t gotten enough sleep lately (thanks to a newborn’s frequent night wakings). Sleep is CRITICAL for willpower—and keeping your metabolism stoked for weight loss. But 7 to 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, plus protein-plus-carb snacks (apple with peanut butter, a few almonds with half a banana, yogurt with a tiny bit of granola…) sets anyone up for consistent energy throughout the day and long-term success at weight loss.

So right now, as the mid-afternoon energy slump is starting to take hold, I’m having an apple with peanut butter and a giant class of water (too little—and your body will think you’re hungry when you’re not).

Do you have strategies for coping with snacking? Share them! I’d love to know what they are.

 

Valerie LatonaAbout Valerie Latona
As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it's not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older.