Who doesn’t love to snack? But if you’re not careful, doing so can cause big trouble for your diet. If you frequently eat between meals, those extra portions could have a big impact on your health – either positive or negative. They will definitely play an important role in helping you to manage your weight and take in all the nutrients your body needs.
So why do so many people find that when they snack throughout the day they’re actually heavier at the end of the week? Well, it’s quite simple, really – they’re eating more calories overall. Right?
Well…sorta. See, USDA studies show that many Americans who snack are taking in about one-third of our daily empty calories from those afternoon candy bars and late night refrigerator raids.
Do you know what that means??
That adds up to most of us are consuming two to four times the recommended limit in solid fats and added sugars. TWO to FOUR times!
It’s enough to turn your stomach (to flab!). So what are you gonna do about it?
The Mayo Clinic suggests keeping snacks below 100 calories. “Generous portions of fruits or vegetables can easily help fill you up while staying below that calorie count. All of the following servings have fewer than 100 calories:
Medium apple: 95 calories
Small banana: 90 calories
Two kiwis: 84 calories
20 medium baby carrots: 70 calories
20 grapes: 68 calories
Medium orange: 65 calories
20 cherry tomatoes: 61 calories
Medium peach: 58 calories
Medium red pepper: 37 calories
20 pea pods: 28 calories
For comparison, one reduced-fat cheese stick has about 60 calories to 100-calories, but it also has 4.5 grams of fat. While the protein and fat may help curb your appetite, a single cheese stick may not be as satisfying as, say, 20 baby carrots, which add up to nearly 10 times the weight of the cheese stick, and have 70 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.”
Blissfully Healthy Ways to Eat More and Still Lose Weight: The Magic of Snacking
I say we revolt! Let’s turn those numbers around! But how? Oh, don’t worry, as usual, I’ve got a plan for you. See, by learning how to choose smart snacks that are good for your health and well-being. Try these blissed-out tips to get started.
Blissed Out Eating – How to Make Better Food Choices
Focus on whole grains. Bake your own treats or look for packaged food that lists whole grains as the first ingredient. Whole wheat flour has more nutrients and fiber than white flour.
Take the sweet and the salty down a notch. Reduce sugar and sodium. Many junk foods are loaded with sugar and sodium. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit instead.
Balance it out. Plan a balanced menu. Think of your snacks as miniature meals that need to include all three food groups. Along with complex carbohydrates, add in lean proteins and healthy fats.
Eat the WHOLE thing! Opt for whole foods. You may be tempted to simplify things by just grabbing an energy bar or buying cookies that are labeled low fat or low sugar. In fact, many convenience foods are less healthy than the label suggests. Buy natural foods like raw nuts and plain yogurt. (Then again, if it’s a matter of convenience, don’t beat yourself up if the energy bars work best for you. Do what you need to do, yo!)
Drink up. If you’re pressed for time, you can snack on healthy beverages. Tea contains antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients. Water will keep you hydrated and feeling full. For heartier fare, whip up smoothies in minutes with vegetables, natural peanut butter, or other goodies.
Eat more produce. On average, we’re eating 3 servings of fruits and vegetables compared to the recommendations for 7 to 13 servings. Snacks can help you fill in the gap.
Find substitutions. You probably have certain snacks that you crave the most. If they’re high in sugar or saturated fat, consider how to adjust them. Oven-baked fries are much slimmer than the fast food version. A square of dark chocolate is lighter than a doughnut.
Keep an eye on your portion sizes. It’s easy to consume as many calories as a full meal if you’re scarfing down potato chips or cheesecake. Measure out a single serving instead of eating out of the container. And if you’re good at eyeballing, check yourself every now and then, especially if you see something crazy happening on weigh-in day.
Don’t eat mindlessly. Stay in control by giving your full attention to your food while you eat it. Enjoy the process of cracking nuts and eating them one by one instead of wolfing down a whole package while watching TV. Spoon out leftovers onto a plate and pull up a chair rather than eating with the refrigerator door open.
Take it with ya. Pack a bag. Carry sensible treats around with you to avoid desperately searching for something wholesome in vending machines or gas stations. Pack a cooler with carrot sticks and yogurt drinks.
Don’t get hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Manage stress and boredom. Distinguish between true hunger and appetite. Do you eat for entertainment or to comfort yourself when you feel blue? Pick up a hobby or invite a friend out for a walk instead.
Keep a journal. If you need more help, a snacking journal can track how much you’re really eating. Spot the triggers that make you want to overindulge and develop strategies for dealing with them.
Choose healthy but yummy snacks that stabilize your blood sugar and give you the energy you need to cruise right on through your busy day. Good-for-you, whole foods and advance planning will help you to stay fit and healthy while you graze between meals.
Project Blissful is a whole-life makeover that helps you become the best possible version of yourself. Author and certified life coach Angela Atkinson has herself lost more than 100 pounds without surgery or hard-core weight loss drugs. In this book, she shares all of the intimate details on how she lost the weight and what she does to keep it off.
Plus, you’ll learn:
How to start losing weight today (and without feeling miserable in the process)
How to love yourself healthy and thin
How to find your ideal weight and reach it without pain
How to lose weight without traditional exercise
How to baby-step your way through small habits that add up to big results
“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.” ~Richard Bach
Just in case you weren’t clear on what it takes to be really, really happy, scientists have come up with an actual formula, thanks to recently published research.
I was kind of surprised when my husband shared a link to the study yesterday – I mean, I thought we’d already figured this one out. But no!
This study says otherwise. These guys? They’ve CRACKED THE CODE. Check out what they found. Be sure to click through at the bottom to read the full story.
Case in point: Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic is one of the world’s most prestigious health institutions. With much fanfare, researchers there announced last week that they have “cracked the code to being happy.” “Imagine scientists coming up with an actual formula for happiness—a specific recipe for lifelong contentment and joy,” they tease.
Well, my forlorn little friends, imagine no more. These scientists boast of having “created just such a formula based on neuroscience and psychology.” For a mere $15.95—less than your daily dose of Zoloft and vodka—they’ll rush off to you “The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness,” a “four-step self-help process” to finding “a lifetime of joy and contentment.”
“Happiness is a habit,” says the study’s chief researcher Dr. Amit Sood in the Daily Mail. “Some of us are born with it; others have to choose it.”
“Previous research has shown that our minds are hard-wired to focus on negative experiences. For our ancestors,” continues the report, being perpetually PO’ed, “helped them stay alive, providing an evolutionary advantage in the face of danger.” (Some of us attribute this to mankind’s fallen, selfish, sinful nature, but we can go with that whole evolution thingy if it makes them feel better.)
Concludes the Daily Mail: “The book makes readers focus on a different positive emotion each day, such as gratitude, forgiveness and kindness.”
Wait. Hold the Mayo. This is dj vu all over again. What “book” are we talking about here? Where have we heard all this before—talk of gratitude, forgiveness, kindness and whatnot, leading to joy, contentment, happiness and so forth?
Besides reducing your ability to perform and increasing your risk of making mistakes (sometimes fatal ones), sleep deprivation has been blamed for issues including things such as memory loss and cognitive impairment, depression, relationship stress, various kinds of injuries and generally lower quality of life.
And not only can a lack of sleep affect you mentally and personally, but it can affect you physically too. For example, sleep deprivation has been known to cause physical ailments and symptoms such as high blood pressure and other cardiovascular symptoms, stroke, obesity and more.
While we all know that getting enough sleep is an important component of our mental and physical health, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Everything feels harder when you’re sluggish and tired.
Obviously, the most important thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to just simply get more sleep. But I’m not here to preach at you. You know what you need to do to stay healthy.
What I am here to do is to help you get through today, this moment, right now.
So, in that spirit, I offer the following five ways to boost your energy fast so that you can get done what you need to get done. And after you do, I hope you’ll go take a nap.
Eat Something Good
Eat energy-boosting foods. Skip the candy bars and sweets. As it turns out, Snickers doesn’t really satisfy you. In fact, according to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, you should eat a healthy snack that has both protein and complex carbs in it.
Gerbstadt says that snacks like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole-grain bread or whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese are ideal energy-boosters.
“That combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way,” she says. “It boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance.”
Give Yourself a Little Pressure
And I don’t mean that you should beat yourself up. Next time you’re pooped and pushing through the day on autopilot, try a little self-massage.
“Massage stimulates your nerve endings, which increases blood flow and gets your circulation pumping,” says Maureen Moon, past president of the American Massage Therapy Association in an interview with Parents Magazine.
Moon recommends the following quick pick-me-up massages.
“Using your fingertips, rub your scalp or temples in a gentle, circular motion for two minutes.”
“Vigorously rub each earlobe between your thumb and forefinger for one minute.”
“Place your forefingers behind your ears (where the base of your skull meets the top of your neck), press for ten seconds, release, and repeat.”
Get a Move On
It may sound counter-intuitive, but try getting up and moving your body. You don’t have to go into full-blown workout mode, but try doing five to ten minutes’ worth of exercise. This can be anything from a walk or jog around the block to doing a couple of laps in the pool to dancing around your living room to a good beat. Just move.
“A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise,” says researcher Patrick O’Connor, PhD, in a news release. “But if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”
Drink Some Water
One reason many people feel tired is that they’re actually dehydrated. Studies show that most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Next time you’re tired, try drinking a glass of water, and try to stay hydrated throughout the day to maintain your energy levels.
“It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink,” says a Mayo clinic expert. “By the time you become thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated.”
Citrus is Your Friend
Vitamin C is known to help increase both energy and nutrient absorption–and the scent of citrus is proven to increase alertness and energy levels. So eating citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines (my favorite!) or grapefruit can significantly improve your energy levels in a hurry.
“Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue,” says Zen Habits blogger Leo Babauta.
A tip from me to you: have a piece of cheese or lean turkey with your orange to help balance the natural sugar.