Platters full of cheese and crackers. Chips and dip. Plates of cookies. The holidays are here and, for many people, that means lots of delicious snacks. Year round, many of us turn to snacks between meals for many reasons including sugar cravings, no time to eat a full meals or even boredom.
But snacker...beware! Research shows that Americans consume nearly one fourth of their daily calories in the form of snacks, and the number of calories Americans consume from snacking has increased since the 1970s. Most popular American snacks are loaded with calories, complex carbohydrates, and refined sugars, meaning they could contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, and other health issues.
When the urge to snack hits, keep these healthy tips in mind.
- Drink water
- Easy: When you feel hungry between meals, try drinking water first. Research shows that many people actually confuse hunger and thirst and end up snacking when they should be drinking water.
- Take it Further!: Check out our tips for staying hydrated, and consider ditching the plastic bottled water altogether to minimize your exposure to microplastics.
- Easy: Start adding activity gradually. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, walk during lunch, or walk with friends instead of sitting and snacking.
- Take it Further! Add regular intense, aerobic exercise. Studies show that vigorous aerobic exercise triggers a “satiety” hormone that tells your body it’s satiated for two to three hours after working out.
- Choose whole foods over processed snacks
- Easy: Try replacing processed foods such as chips and pastries with nuts, fruits, and other whole foods. These will satisfy you longer and give you more nutrition and longer-lasting energy than empty calories.
- Take it Further! Try making your own healthy snacks using whole ingredients to make noshing fun while also controlling your sugar and salt intake.
- Start cooking
- Easy: Gradually transition to making more meals at home. Studies show people who cook at home consume fewer calories and eat more nutritiously than people who don’t cook at home.
- Take it further! Try eating and cooking seasonally, basing your meals on fruits and vegetables that are in-season locally. Eating seasonally gets you outside to local farmers markets and serves as a constant reminder to eat whole, healthy foods year-round.