To Snack Or Not To Snack
By Susan Epstein; MS, RD, CDN,
Snacking. Everyone does it. A handful of pretzels at work. A bag of popcorn while at the movies. Is this really going to slow my weight loss? What about after Bariatric Surgery? Doesn’t it make sense to eat small snacks throughout the day since the stomach is so small?
Snacking too often is commonly referred to as “grazing”. Grazing on foods throughout the day can quickly become a problem any time your goal is to lose weight, even after weight loss surgery. Unless you limit snacking to 1 or 2 planned snacks, it can actually prevent weight loss.
Let’s look at how snacking can hinder your weight loss:
- Mindless snacking. If you are in the habit of eating snacks while doing other things (eg. watching t.v., driving, working on the computer), this is mindless snacking. If you’re not concentrating, the calories and carbohydrates can add up very quickly.
- Snacking when you’re bored, stressed, or upset, rather than because you’re hungry. At times we snack just because it is a habit. For example, when we pass the break room at work or when we snack in order to unwind after dinner.
- Not following a schedule. If you eat anytime you feel like it, in other words you are constantly snacking, this can lead to consuming too many calories and gradual weight gain will result. It’s always best to plan your meals and snacks in advance and then stick to the plan.
- Choosing unhealthy snacks. Sometimes snacks can sound healthy. For example, baked potato chips, sugar free cookies, a fruit flavored cereal bar. Due to the high carbohydrate content of these snacks, they will not satisfy you and will most likely leave you feeling hungrier. In order to make snacking more healthful, choose whole foods. The less processed the better and remember to select foods that contain protein. Proteins are digested more slowly and will help you feel satiated. Ideas for more satisfying snacks include string cheese with an apple, hard boiled eggs, plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, turkey rolled in lettuce, raw vegetables dipped in hummus, or nuts in moderation.
Snacks and meals should be eaten mindfully. Sit down at the table, eat slowly, and do not be distracted while eating. This will allow you to stay focused on your meal, so you will actually taste the foods and allow you to feel more satisfied.Remember to snack when you are truly hungry, especially if it will be a long stretch until your next planned meal.