Snacking on foods high in calories and saturated fats can sabotage any attempt at healthy eating. Constantly filling up on empty-calorie snacks may seem temporarily satisfying, but in reality foods high in sugar digest rapidly and quickly produce a hungry feeling. The vicious cycle of continuous snacking and subsequent hunger adds unnecessary calories to the daily diet and pounds to the waistline. Committing to changing daily eating habits can seem like a daunting task, but with a few basic strategies, the food consumed for meals and snacks can provide essential nutrients.
Healthy eating habits begin with learning to satisfy the appetite with nutritious, filling food choices. It has been said numerous times that breakfast is the most essential meal of the day; however, more noteworthy is what is served at breakfast. Sugary cereals and pastries will leave the body long before lunch. Instead, try fiber-rich oatmeal or whole-grain breads which supply the body with slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates. Add fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Lunch and dinner should be balanced with a protein choice, fruit and vegetable portions, and a complex carbohydrate serving. The result is increased fullness for a longer period, less between-meal-snacking, and more energy and mental alertness.
Snacks should not be deemed off limits, but mindless snack choices should be. To decrease the temptation to reach for an unhealthy snack, clear the house of processed snack food. Replace unhealthy choices with a variety of nutritious and filling alternatives. Good snack choices are low-fat cheese and yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole-grain crackers, and low calorie vegetable dip or salsa. It is essential to make healthy snacks readily available to everyone. When fresh produce is purchased, immediately wash it and place items in a convenient location. Prepackaging healthy portions of heart-healthy nuts and seeds make snacking on the go easier. Homemade trail mix that combines nuts, seeds, and dried fruit is a healthy alternative to cookies and candy.
Breaking the monotonous snacking pattern can be done by starting the day with a nutritious breakfast, providing accessibility to healthy snacks, and eliminating processed convenience snacks from the pantry. Prepare well-balanced meals to reduce the need to snack; the urge that results from consuming primarily high-fat, empty calorie foods.