How many times a day do you grab a snack to tide you over until the next meal? Is it one? Two? Three?
Over the years, Americans have been on an upward trend of time spent eating just a snack. As of 2008, it was estimated that we spend 30 minutes a day snacking, doubling from 15 minutes in 2006. Though snacking isn't bad to our health, it seems that we aren't making the best choices when it comes to snacking, potentially contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. It doesn't help that big brands with products high in salt, sugar, and additives flood the aisles of the grocery store, gas station, or vending machines, making it harder to find healthier options.
Snacking can be enjoyable and should be seen as an opportunity to bridge the gap of recommended daily servings of fruit, vegetables, or whole grains and providing us with essential nutrients for our bodies to function. Check out these tips that you can incorporate to make smarter, healthier choices when reaching for your next snack!
Pack Your Snack. Sometimes, we are limited by the options that surround us. It's easy to eliminate this by bringing your own snack. Another great option is to stock your desk with some trail mix, granola bars, or even fresh fruit. Some employers are even subsidizing or providing their employees with healthier snack options. If this isn't already an option, try working with your employer to provide this benefit. Check out this article that discusses how food affects our productivity.
Simple Swaps. Next time you reach for your favorite snack, ask yourself if there is a better option. Some examples include dark chocolate for candy or veggie chips for regular chips. Making these simple swaps can have a positive impact on your health by reducing the number of calories, fat, and sugar packed into processed foods.
Be Mindful. How often do you find yourself mindlessly eating something when you're watching TV or on the computer? Use your snack as an opportunity to take a break from what you are doing. Doing so will help you eat less as you are able to fully be aware of how much you're eating and when you're full.
Portion Out. We often just reach for a plate or bowl, fill it up with our snack and move on. Easy? Yes. Healthy? Probably not. If we aren't taking the time to portion out our food items, this can lead us to consume excessive calories, fat, and sugar, leading to unwanted weight gain. As you're getting ready to eat your next snack, portion out as you normally would, then go back and see how much is actually in one serving. Doing this will help you visually see exactly how much extra you are consuming.