4 Healthy Snacking Tips

Stacy Yates

To help you build the best habits around snacking

Popcorn snack with salt - Unsplash: Eduardo Casajus Gorostiaga

Let’s face it. Snacking is often more of a bad habit than anything. If we’re already eating three healthy meals a day, it’s doubtful that we actually need snacks. But we love snacks! This is probably because snacks are more often the less healthy, more processed foods that we don’t usually include in a well-rounded healthy meal.

When you think “snack”, what comes to your mind for you? Is it a couple of carrots sticks or an apple? I’d be willing to bet that it’s probably more likely to be something like chips, popcorn, granola bars, packaged “snack packs” and Twizzlers.

Snacks can be helpful if you really need them AND definitely can be healthy choices, but they are often one area that a lot of people can easily over-consume on calories.

I have four tips for snacking here.

Two are based on you, and two are based on your environment.

Based on You:

Pay Attention to Your Hunger Cues

If you’re actually hungry, then, by all means, eat. Maybe you didn’t have a big enough lunch and now you’re ravenous hours before dinner.

One of the best tools for healthy eating and weight management is the old adage: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied (not full).

We must learn to differentiate real hunger (from emotional hunger) as well as when we are satisfied (instead of full or stuffed). But believe it or not, real hunger can sometimes be hard to recognize, and some people are way more out of touch with their signals thanks to years of dieting and being told what and when to eat.

Slice of strawberry pie

Asking yourself questions like “when did I last eat” and “what else is going on” can be helpful to practically determine real from emotional hunger. The other trick is the broccoli test: Are you so hungry that you could eat a tree of broccoli? Or are you only really hungry for the leftover pie in the kitchen? ;) Hmmmmm.

“Pre-Approve” Yourself

Ok, so you have determined you ARE actually hungry. Great.

Create a list of pre-approved snack foods so that if and when hunger strikes, you will choose well. My pre-approved list especially for nighttime snacking (which I too sometimes struggle with) includes raw veggies, an apple, a banana, and an avocado with S&P.

What would you add to yours? It should be something healthy, and something that you wouldn’t normally crave or desire if you happened to find yourself with your head in your pantry while in the middle of a Netflix binge.

Based on Your Environment:

Set Yourself Up

Don’t rely on willpower alone.

I don’t think it’s a secret that willpower is finite and we cannot solely rely on it to make good decisions for ourselves. If you know that you cannot have an open bag of chips in the house, then buy single-serving packs once in a while as a treat. Yes, it’s not as convenient and doesn’t have the same value proposition as a “family-sized” bag would, but at least this way you won’t eat that entire bag.

Bowl of m&ms

The same goes for candy or whatever your kryptonite is. If you have a family that also enjoys these same snacks and you DO happen to have them around all the time, get them to act as gatekeepers. You can get creative here, and I have heard all sorts of hacks: getting your husband to keep the candy in the car or hiding it, using a special “snack bowl” for chips and once it’s filled, you can’t go back again for seconds, or even placing whatever it is that you really like in very inconvenient places. Use your imagination.

Sit at the Table

Let’s face it. Part of the appeal of a snack is its built-in flexibility. You can eat a snack in the car, on the couch, or even on your bed. How many of us would actually enjoy eating an entire bag of chips by ourselves at the kitchen table without watching a show or scrolling? We need to pay attention to what we are doing while we are snacking.

So before you experience the next “snack attack”, spend time doing some planning around what snacks would be good options for you, and get creative with your environment!

Hey there! I’m Stacy! I am certified in Holistic Nutrition and even though I am a nutrition nerd, I am actually a foodie at heart. My motto is: Be healthy, but enjoy life — just choose wisely!

In my current accountability practice, I help women take control of their own health through the use of real, whole foods, and assist them in creating (and sustaining) lifelong health habits so they can FINALLY get off that horrible diet-rollercoaster!

When I’m not coaching, eating, or trying out a new recipe, you might catch me hanging out with my amazing 11-yr old daughter, working out (I love barre and spin), or perhaps watching my favorite reality TV program, 90 Day Fiance!

I practice in my hometown of Calgary, AB but because most of my work is done online — I am available for consultations or coaching wherever it is that you happen to call home.

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