1. Ask yourself the five Ws
What is your favourite snack? When and where do you do most of your snacking? Who are you snacking with and why are you usually doing it? Identifying your temptation scenarios is the best way to avoid them.
2. Be prepared
"I keep healthy snacks everywhere … at my desk, in the car, in my purse and at home," says Donna Bottrell, R.D. Minimize your chances of reaching for your usual fatty, salty or sweet fix by keeping healthier alternatives at your fingertips.
3. Don't skip meals
There is a good chance that you're snacking because you're hungry. Trying to cut calories early in the day (like by skipping breakfast, for example) will cost you dearly later in the afternoon when you're ravenous and come across a cheese platter.
4. Pay attention
If you often find yourself staring down an empty bag of chips with only a vague recollection of actually eating them, chances are you're a mindless snacker. Typical crime scenes include office desks and television-adjacent seating; victims often suffer from unexpected weight gain. Avoid keeping food in situations where you are likely to graze, and when you are eating make sure to give it your undivided attention.
5. Plan accordingly
"If you go six or seven hours without eating, your blood sugar levels will be all over the place, leaving you weak, tired and unable to concentrate," Bottrell says. "You want to plan healthy snacks to cover you during those gaps." If you know your day will be filled with long stretches between meals, or if you have lots of physical activity planned, you need to keep yourself fuelled.
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6. Don't buy in bulk
If you can demolish an entire row of cookies in one sitting, it might not be such a good idea for you to keep them in your house. But if you're going to indulge your sweet tooth, avoid buying anything that will last longer than your craving – stick to treats that come in smaller serving sizes so the leftovers won't tempt you throughout the week, Bottrell suggests.
7. Write it down
A food journal is the best way to scare yourself straight. Not only is it great for identifying patterns ("I really do eat licorice every night before bed!"), but it's also a way to keep yourself in check. ("I had that buttery scone this morning – maybe I should skip the free cake in the boardroom.")
8. Keep a reminder nearby
Are you a serial office snacker? You might think twice about popping out for a doughnut if you had a picture of yourself in a swimsuit taped to your computer monitor. A simple visual cue that reinforces a health or fitness goal will help put mind over matter and snap you out of your hypoglycemic hunger haze.
9. Use snacking to your advantage
"Snacks are actually very healthful … they present a great opportunity to meet your daily fruit and vegetable requirements," Bottrell says. When you need to snack, make it a point to grab real food – something from Canada's Food Guide – to maximize the essential nutrients you get out of your diet.
10. Sweeten the deal
A sense of deprivation is often the culprit behind a snacking frenzy, especially if you go cold-turkey on your favourite goodies. Keep yourself feeling treated by adding small amounts of sinful sweetness to your healthy snacks. "Try adding a little chocolate, preferably dark, to some trail mix or add fresh or frozen fruit to your cereal," Bottrell recommends.
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