I am a firm believer that my story and my journey to the healthiest version of myself isn’t just for me. So I plan to do series like this on my blog to help those who are just starting, stuck on their journey, or those who just like the supplemental knowledge and experience (long drawn out way of saying basically everyone).
These will be the result of the frequent questions I am asked, or suggestions from you. Please know that these bits of knowledge are based off of things I’ve read or experiences I’ve had – I’m not a dietitian or nutritionist (obvi).
A big hang up in a lot of people’s journey – especially when they’re looking for weight loss – is snacking. It is one of the easiest ways to eat, especially mindlessly, and can really throw off your results if you’re not careful.
Lets get one thing straight: snacks are not bad. Every meal plan I’ve followed has had a “snack” component. Eating between larger meals helps you stay on track so that you’re not absolutely ravenous come lunch or dinner time.
Tip #1: Follow a meal plan.
Seriously. To ensure that your snacks fit into your healthy routine, follow a meal plan. This allows you to incorporate your between meal eating into what you’re already doing, rather than having it as an addition (which is where we get derailed). Snacking is in your plan – not separate from it. Sub tip: Your meal plan shouldn’t look the exact same as someone who has different goals or a different body type than you. Meal plans are not one size fits all. Therefore, your snacking won’t look the same, either.
Tip #2: Get rid of the junk.
If its not there, you can’t eat it. Yeah, I hear you and see your eye roll “I’ll just go get it if its not in the house/my desk at work” because I had the same thoughts. But chances are slim of that happening. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve actually said “wow I want cookies” while having no cookies in the house and I actually went and bought some. You may be extra, but you’re not that extra.
Tip #3: Be mindful.
Don’t sit on the couch with a bag of pretzels and snack away. Put time into “making” your snack – meaning: portion it out according to your meal plan, put it on a plate, and put the excess away. I’m not ignorant to the fact that the rest is still there in your house, but I do know that when your brain sees an empty plate, it sees the finish line – done – over. BUT – if you’re just trying to gauge when you’re “done” by how full you feel, chances are that the episode of Friends you’re watching will take precedence in your brain and you’ll overeat.
Tip #4: Find what you like.
If you don’t like kale chips, don’t. eat. kale. chips. There are tons of healthy snack ideas and recipes (I’d love to suggest some for you!) that will fit in your meal plan (have I stressed that enough, yet?). If you know you need a veggie & a healthy fat, find a combo that you enjoy. Whatever it may be – don’t be afraid to repeat. If you like it, stick with it and don’t force yourself to shove food down your throat that you don’t enjoy. That will also derail you – because you’ll end up not enjoying what you’re eating and find something you like instead.
Tip #5: Eat real food.
I know that protein bars and other pre-made snack items are easy for grab-and-go and they make life easier. But a lot of these can be filled with sugars and unnecessary things that our bodies don’t really need. When you can, take the extra time to prepare your snacks in your home. Carve out space in your meal prep day and make your snacks for the week. Have them portioned out and packaged so that you can grab them on your way out of the door. 1) Its just as easy & 2) you’re fully aware of whats in them.
Tip #6: Drink more water.
If you find yourself snacking more than you should throughout the day (even if its healthy snacks – you can overeat on healthy items, too!), drink more water. When we’re learning about our bodies, we have to understand what actual hunger feels like. I know that sounds weird, but we become accustomed to eating at certain times of the day and feel like we should continue to do that when we are trying to live healthier. We need to break that routine of feeling like we need to eat when we’re not actually hungry. Also, water keeps you hydrated and your organs working properly – so there’s a bonus!
Tip #7: Be kind to yourself.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you expect to be perfect, that’s not fair and that means there’s no room for improvement. You’re going to have cravings and you might even accidentally satisfy those cravings with junk foods. Don’t beat yourself up. Decide that you’re going to move forward and make better decisions. You didn’t develop these habits overnight and you won’t break them in that time either. Be better than you were yesterday and find accountability partners who are willing to call you out when necessary, but praise you, too.