There’s nothing wrong with having a snack to tide you over until your next meal, but not all snack habits are healthy. Working from home has made it easier for some of us to get into all-day kitchen grazing and depending on what’s in your cabinets, that could be bad for the waistline. But even if you stay away from soda and junk food, some experts warn that all that snacking could be hurting your health in addition to causing weight gain.
Think it’s time to revamp your snack routine? Here’s what the nutrition pros recommend:
- Eat protein and fiber with every meal- These will help you feel more full, according to registered nutritionist Stacey Lockyer. Loading up on carbs may cause spikes and then dips in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling hungry sooner. Protein-rich foods like lean meat, nuts and fish, as well as high-fiber foods like whole grains, vegetables and seeds should be included in your meals.
- Use a food diary app- Sometimes we don’t realize how much we eat when we’re mindlessly snacking, but food diary apps can help us keep track of how much we’re really eating. Registered nutritionist Rebecca Leech points out these tools can also help us find patterns in our snacking, like eating more when we’re sad or feeling stressed.
- Get enough sleep- Without it, our bodies have a tougher time regulating the hormones that make us feel hungry or full, so it can be harder to resist a snack when we haven’t had enough sleep. So aim for the recommended seven to nine hours a night to avoid throwing off the body’s natural hunger cues.
- Make healthy choices- An occasional snack isn’t hurting your health, but if you’re constantly grazing between meals and gaining weight over time, try some healthy swaps. Instead of sugary drinks and baked goods, go for fruit and yogurt, a handful of nuts, a banana and nut butter, or carrots and hummus so your snacks are nutritious and tasty.