All of us at one time or anotherhas struggled to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It can be a difficult task when our busy lives interfere with planning healthy meals and snacks. Most nutritionists and dieticians will agree that we should consume three satisfying, balanced meals daily with healthy snacks in between. Most people love to snack, nosh and nibble…but did you realize that doing this could have negative consequences on your dietary meal plan?
Snacking can be a great way to keep hunger under control and our blood sugar at a stable level. There are times when we tend to grab unhealthy choices to diminish our cravings and calm our rumbling stomach. If these snacks are unhealthy, it may cause you to gain weight and disrupt your diet. That is why you need to think strategically about the foods you are eating and how much you are ingesting. The Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center team has created some simple snacking tips so your craving for munchies does notdestroy your diet goals.
• Think about your diet – A healthy diet requires us toeat enough fruits and vegetables to receive the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals daily. Fresh produce comes in many different varieties especially depending on the season and has the ability to satisfy a craving for something sweet or crunchy. Nuts can be a healthy choice for snacking.Walnuts, almonds, and flaxseeds help fill our hungry stomachs thanks to high amounts of fiber and other nutrients.Choose unsalted nuts when possible and watch portion sizes.
• Read labels carefully – When we snack many of us don’t keep track of how much we are eating.Not keeping track of the amounts of food we consume will add a lot of extra calories, which willeventually add to our waistlines. That is why portion control is necessary when consuming snacks.Overestimating yourself and the amount of food you can consume is never a healthy choice.
• It is important what you eat before and after a workout – It is a great idea to work out and exercise every day.Many of us lose our energy after the gym due to high intensity workouts. So you must be careful not to consume more calories than you worked off in the gym.Consuming a protein bar, string cheese and whole wheat crackers or a piece of fruit with a tablespoon of nut butter before working out will give you a burst of energy that you will need. Small snackswill help absorb more minerals and help digestion during your workout. After your workout, protein and carbohydrates will help with muscle recovery and building so you can be lean and fit.
• Stay hydrated – Our bodies can become dehydrated very easily. That is why you must distinguish between being hungry and being dehydrated. Before reaching for a snack, have a glass of ice-cold water and wait afew minutes. This time period will help determine if you body is hungry or just dehydrated. Water will also help fill your stomach and it is critical for keeping your organs and digestive system functioning well. Those who drink more water tend to eat fewer calories during a meal compared to those who drank nothing at all.
• “Graze” during the day – Don’t wait till you are completely famished to have a meal! Snacks can give you a boost of energy to get you through your day. They can also help you get through an intensive workout. Having a snack or small meal every three to four hours helps keeps blood sugar stable and keeps hunger pangs from developing.
• Never go to bed hungry – Many people think going to bed hungry will help them lose weight and burn more fat while they sleep. However, going to bed hungry may actually cause you to lose muscle and fat burning potential. A small snack around 100 calories will help keep you full during the night to prevent “midnight raids” of the refrigerator or cupboard.
• Don’t replace meals with snacks – We are always busy and unfortunately a busy lifestyle can cause poor eating habits. Eating small snacks throughout the day and having a large dinner can cause a mix of medical issues and lifelong problems. Snacking instead of eating a meal can cause weight gain, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and other detrimental health issues. That is why a healthy meal is needed in the morning, at noon, and night with small snacks in between.
• Consult with your physician – Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise or weight loss program. They can give you the best advice of what you need nutritionally and physically for your body and health.
Snacking smart and eating healthy is the best thing you can do for your body. At Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, we always wish for your good health. Please feel free to call us at 201-392-3100 for any health related concerns.