Does your snacking ruin your diet? Good nutrition and exercise are key to healthy weight and life. However, while some form of exercise is often a natural part of our lives, eating right requires more self-control. And it is especially true for us moms when it comes to night time, when the kids are in bed and it’s time to relax. If you are looking for an easy way out, it doesn’t exist, but the tips below can help you eat your snack and enjoy it too!
A little Dark
If you are craving something sweet but always end up inhaling cookies or cake, get a little piece of dark chocolate with nuts. It will fill you up and offer healthy fats and protein from the nuts. The benefits of eating dark chocolate are numerous from giving you antioxidants to lowering blood pressure. Portion a finger-length piece of a chocolate bar and enjoy!
Berries and Fruit
Berries are the ultimate nature’s snacks. They are sweet, thirst-quenching, rich in vitamins and lower in sugar than other treats. Blackberries are particularly nutritious with a high content of immunity-boosting vitamin C, fiber and tannin for healthier blood vessels. Or, eat some fiber-rich fruit (which is more satiating and makes you feel fuller) and then get away from the kitchen – brush your teeth, paint your nails, even get out of the house.
Eat veggies for a snack any time. Full of fiber and water, they are filling, hydrating and very low on calories, and nil on fat. A little crunch is a nice bonus. Pair celery sticks with a little hummus and you are adding a healthy protein as well.
Cereal to the Rescue
If you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to over-indulge, portion one serving of sweet yet vitamin-rich cereal. I crave chocolate, so I find Chocolate mini-wheats or Kellogg’s Chocolate Special K does the trick. The bonus is you are getting the numerous vitamins and fiber from the cereal. One tip is to avoid high amounts of sugar and sodium in your cereal – for night time or morning.
Don’t Mistake Thirst for Hunger
Drink a glass of cold water. Does it satisfy your craving? Often, your thirst may disguise itself as hunger. Or, you can fool your stomach by filling it with liquid first. If you still want to eat a snack after a glass of water, then pick wisely from one of the above.
Indulge but Portion
Deprivation often leads to bingeing. So avoid this dangerous track by eating a small portion of your favorite food. Love cheese? Have a little bite. You’ll learn to appreciate the taste more and your waistline will thank you.
What’s it worth?
Calculate the worth of the snack. If it’s a chocolate ice cream bar with a good amount of fat, see if this is worth 30 minutes on the elliptical or is your energy better spent on a cup of berries or a small piece of dark chocolate with nuts. Weighing the nutritional worth of an item in relation to the exercise input makes you not only make better choices but also appreciate the snack more. As to what’s important to keep on the low end – number of calories, amount of fat (and any trans-fat), amount of sodium. The less processed the snack, the better, which is why berries, fruit and veggies are at the top of my list.
If your snacking is hampering your healthy eating, then cut it down. Get busy – play with your kids, read a book, check your email, do a home manicure. Taking the time off will ensure that when and if you do get around to having a night time snack, it won’t be because of boredom but because you are hungry. Then, pick one of the healthier snacking options – berries, fruit, nuts, or dark chocolate.
Use a small cup/bowl for snacking. I use the tiny paper water cups to measure my snacks. Or, use your kids small bowls. You’ll give into the craving, yet eat a small portion.
Set a Curfew
Set up your own curfew. Stop eating 3 (Ok, at least 2) hours before you go to bed. This will help you digest your food completely vs. spiking your blood sugar. If you miss the cut-off, that means no more snacks. Stick to it and you will feel better in the morning.
I am a mom of two, host of #MomInspirations twitter parties, home chef and foodie, certified personal trainer and weight management specialist, traveler and adventurer, planner and organizer. Still waiting for my naptime break!