Updated: Apr 28, 2019
Are you really snacking as healthy as you think? Here are 5 Tips to Make Sure You Are Staying on Track.
Who has ever said to themselves, "Hey! enough is enough, I'm going to do it this time", as you proceed to throw out every bag of chips and box of cereal in your pantry. Congratulations, if you have ever made it to this step, as most people could never get rid of their coveted Frosted Flakes or their Lays Classics. Unfortunately, this part of the process is only the beginning, and what you do from here will determine your true success in your new found mission. As me and my partner at My Mindful Market discovered the true kryptonite to our overall success, we knew we had to change our ways. After close observation of our daily routine, we learned that snacking was disfavorably effecting everything from our results, to the way we felt. It is amazing how easy little snacks here and there can make such an impact without even realizing it. The misconception I have observed within myself and through others, is that eating between main meals is highly overlooked and assumed to be almost a non-existent threat. Or even just thinking that what you are snacking on is healthy, but isn't. So, without further at due, lets get into our 5 tips to keep your snacking habits, right on track!
Are you really snacking as healthy as you think. Here are 5 Tips to Make Sure You Are Staying on Track.
Realize there is a weakness:
This has to be the hands down hardest part of all. A great example of this is to turn to my friends father. For the past four years, he religiously snacked on a certain brand of buffalo pretzel pieces. He would then wash it down with a cold and refreshing Diet Coke. I am not going to focus on the pop aspect in this blog, (but will address it's unfavorable characteristics in a future one.) So, like most snacks that are common place at work, his pretzel pieces contained palm oil, modified corn starch, and a paragraph of twenty total ingredients...YIKES! We have recently leaned him off of his pretzel and pop combo by revealing to him what he was really eating. After regrettably crushing his heart (you know that ending a four year day-to-day relationship with anything is difficult), he opened up and explained to us how he knew he could be eating better, but never realized flavored pretzels could be much more than, well, pretzels! I know a lot of people can resonate with this very logic. So, it was at this point he realized there were changes that he could begin to make. He now has a bag of Oatmeal Cranberry Bites from My Mindful Market everyday! Not a bad move as he reduced his go-to-snacks' ingredient list from twenty to only seven! Some people's weakness comes from a lack of knowledge, time constraints, and (or) budget. No matter what the case is, just like anything else, you must acknowledge there is a problem first.
Know your goals
"Eating healthy" today is considered to be almost an umbrella term, encompassing many perspectives. Eating healthy to 27 year old Tina, who wants her snacks to be made with organic ingredients, will be different from what Sandy considers to be healthy at 67 with high blood pressure and an inability to have a lot of sodium. Some people focus on a healthy snack that has no artificial flavorings added and some prefer minimal ingredients period. So, once you have acknowledged your weakness, then understood your goal(s), it becomes much easier to develop your plan of attack. Just ask yourself, what does healthy mean to you? What would you like to accomplish? Then put your game face on and get to work!
Plan out your day:
By simply knowing your daily schedule in and out, it is easy to spot times throughout the day when you know hunger will strike. We are all busy people and that means it's not always convenient to sit down and prepare a fresh cooked meal or cut up a fruit salad. That's exactly why when our stomach rumbles, and there's no time to eat what's right, we cave and resort to convenient alternatives that are less than favorable. And you know exactly what I mean! Ever been on the road, driving somewhere, while in a hurry, and the onset of pure pain from being hungry almost sends you into a panic? You might converse with yourself like "I cant believe how hungry I am, I cant even concentrate!" You then might drive by a certain fast food establishment that has a window cling promoting "10 nuggets for only $1.00". Your next thought probably goes something like "well I could be in and out of the drive thru within minutes, and its so cheap I would be losing money if I didn't!" Or have you been at you work desk and it's only 11:00 when you lunch is at 1:00. You might think "two hours till I eat?.....Ughhh….wait a minute!", as you suddenly remember what is in your computer bag while busting out that bag of Ruffles you had in your reserve for about four weeks. In that moment of desperation , this action becomes automatically, "justified"! With proper planning, these scenarios don't have to result in last second deliberations within yourself while ultimately losing. By being prepared with appropriate snacks on hand, you will be good to go, anywhere you are. For example, I know that between the hours of 12-2 P.M., I am usually on the road driving to wherever I have to be. Knowing this, I keep my glovebox filled at all times with snacks I feel good about eating (and you know I always have a fresh stock of My Mindful Market Bites in there).
Find your snack hacks:
Snack hacks are a great way to maintain healthy eating habits. I define a "snack hack", as any food you enjoy eating, that is aligned with your overall goals (as discussed previously). You can turn to this food anytime while on the verge of cracking, as it will easily allow you to overcome the lure of your previous salty sweetheart. Healthy to me personally, is defined as being physically fit, which is a combination of exercise and proper dieting. To reach this goal, I realized my snacking couldn't fall through the cracks, so I came up with a few snack hacks of my own. To fully optimize my workouts, I am constantly in need of generous amounts of protein, without all of that other stuff that is usually thrown in in the mix. With that in mind, I tried to stay way from protein bars as I couldn't believe how many ingredients were in one! So, I kept in my car a variety of nuts as they gave me the protein I needed, that were satisfyingly filling, and only have one ingredient! You can't beat it! I know, nuts in general can be expensive, and then you have to pre portion them into Ziplocs, but having a snack hack on hand like this can be a real life saver. Another one of my favorite snack hacks of all time is beef jerky. PLEASE, do not confuse Jerky and Slim Jims. I know Slim Jims are much cheaper, but there is a reason. The brand of beef jerky I tend to keep in my glovebox is actually a great snack when you break it down. Jerky packs in 12g of protein, 0g Sat Fat, and only 80 calories in a 28g serving (the same as the standard serving size of potato chips). Did I mention that not only does it provide some pretty impressive stats, but it does this with only eight ingredients! To top it off, it comes in a single serving package that I just grab and go, anywhere? The one thing I will say is that there is a hefty amount of sodium that is used to preserve and flavor the meat. As I am currently 27 and in good health, sodium is not something I tend monitor too intensively. So with my health goals, it is easy to align a snack that I love to eat, with what I am trying to accomplish. Snack hacks are a great system to implement, but does take some effort to get it going.
Out of sight out of mind:
This is an age old saying that is applicable to almost anything you are trying to lean yourself off of. Our brains are like the Instagram algorithm, it always puts the most recent experiences at the forefront of our attention. This is why the first few days of trying to kick a habit are the most difficult. In order to present you brain with a new perspective, one without your weakness, your Snickers bar must remain out of sight, FOR GOOD! Anything that might steer you off of your goals doesn't belong anywhere in your house, at work, or in your car. Holding onto a keepsake HO- HO in your drawer to reflect upon happy times, isn't going to make you successful. Trust me, this behavior will only bring you pain. They say the best way to get over a girlfriend is to cut off all communications. Just like breaking up with Stephanie in third grade, this will be difficult, but stick to it. So, do yourself a favor, get rid of anything that is even slightly mis-aligned with your new goals. Whether in your pantry, fridge, or glove box, soon enough you will thank yourself.
Like life in general, finding a solution to a problem you have is never easy, let alone realizing you have one in the first place. Even when you come up with a plan, its sometimes painstaking to see it through. So, to recap, you must first acknowledge to yourself that you know you can do better and actually hold yourself to it. This is crucial to changing anything. Once you have acknowledged, you then have to assess your life and find what needs improvement. Whether this is for a medical reason, athletic involvements, or simply maintaining your body for many more healthy years to come, discovering areas that need addressed will streamline your efforts to reach your goals and provide a much better chance for success. Tip three, is to map out your average day and find the cracks that are proven to be problematic. When we are hungry and left with little time, mostly anything goes. That is why it is so important to know when you will most likely be hungry and where, so that you are well prepared with healthy snacks in hand. Tip 4 is to find your own snack hacks and lean on them when in time of need. These "go-to-staples", that you have previously deemed to align with your overall goals, will be crucial to keep you on track. Not only must it provide you with what you need to reach success, but have to be something you truly enjoy no matter what time it is, just like my nuts and beef jerky. Even when I am faced with temptation, I can bust out my jerky and move on with my day. Lastly, rid your life of temptation and clear out anywhere snacks may be hiding. The easiest way to stick to your healthy eating goals is to not have any temptation in sight. The Twinkies, Fritos, and Moon Pies have to go.
If you follow these 5 Tips, I am sure your snacking habits will improve leaps and bounds, resulting in a happier you! Don't take our word for it, try it yourself and show this to someone you know could really benefit. But don't wait, start this right now and see the difference.