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Many people who struggle with diet and nutrition do a reasonable job of managing what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I’ve known many people who struggle with weight, and clearly consume too many calories (and many empty calories), but you wouldn’t necessarily notice poor choices or over eating if you joined them for lunch.  Often, the real challenge surfaces in the form of snacking.  Mid-Morning, early-afternoon and evening snacking can undermine even the most well devised meal plan.

Personal trainers, fitness coaches and nutritionists will tell you that snacking is good, but most will also agree that snacking without the right strategy, is a quick way to weight gain.  Here are a few things I recommend you consider, to ensure snack-time doesn’t become guilt-time.

  1. Keep It Regular – The human body likes rhythmic cycles.  Pick a time between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner to target for snacks.  This will help ensure you you keep your blood sugar at a more stable level, and you will be less likely to over eat (aka binge).
  2. Avoid Garbage Foods – I know the term “garbage foods” is in the eye of the beholder, but we all know the typical snacks that enter meeting rooms and that are stocked in vending machines.  Things like candy, potato chips, cookies, etc. (high calorie, no/low nutritional value = garbage foods).  There was an article in Yahoo!Health called “5 Smart Vending Machine Snacks” that covered 5 “what to avoid” and 5 “what to select” items, and I suggest avoiding all of them.  I know this is a tough one, but just because someone brings a snack to a meeting room, or a party (and it’s free) that doesn’t mean you have to eat it.   Just don’t do it!
  3. Be The “Healthy Snack” Person – OK, so you may not have folks climbing over one another to ask you for a handful of almonds, carrot sticks and hummus, pop corn, etc., but you may have a few takers.  And you’ll feel good about what you’re snacking on, because it likely has far fewer calories and those calories will be working for you.  Find a few things that will satisfy your snack craving, yet are good for you, and keep them stocked and ready.  For a few ideas, check out “400-Calorie Snacks” from Prevention Magazine (I personally don’t endorse all, nor should you strive for 400 calorie snacking, but I like the creativity and concept).  Please remember that even healthy snacks need to be eaten in moderation.  For example, if you’re eating more than a shallow palm full of almonds, you’re over-doing-it.
  4. Outsmart Boredom – Snacking shouldn’t be something you do simply because you’re bored.  Find something else to do, that doesn’t contribute to poor health, weight gain and guilt.  Use your creativity here, but two tried and true simple things you can do to fill the void and in effect outsmart boredom (1) check gum and (2) increase water consumption.

Small steps add up!