Snacking often gets a bad rap when it comes to working towards healthy weight loss, and the common misconception that you can’t snack and continue to lose weight leads many people to deprive themselves of satiating their hunger in between meals. But in reality, snacking is a perfectly healthy habit to uphold, provided you’re making thoughtful choices as to which foods you’re nibbling on to keep you full throughout the day.
While snacking in and of itself will not stall weight loss, there are certain mistakes you can make while eating that can make it more difficult to see the results you’re working towards. We spoke with Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, and the author of ‘Finally Full, Finally Slim,’ to find out which snacking habits to avoid to see the most positive changes in your body without limiting yourself or ignoring hunger cues.
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If you’re truly hungry, having a snack between meals is a perfectly healthy way to fuel your body and provide yourself with increased energy to go through your day with. However, the minute your snacking goes from an intentional action to a mindless feeding frenzy, you run the risk of affecting your body and weight loss goals. “The worst snacking habit is mindlessly grazing while doing something else (like watching TV.) When you pay no attention, you tend to pick too much of the wrong choices,” warns Young.
Distracted eating can make it more difficult to listen to your body and stop eating when you’re actually full, and this carries into snacking as well. Your snack is simply meant to tamp down on your hunger until the next meal, but when you aren’t paying attention it can be easy to eat more than you need, quickly increasing your calorie intake which will naturally slow your weight loss results. “Plan for healthy and satisfying snacks and tune into your inner hunger levels,” suggests Young of how to create a more mindful snacking habit. “Eat only when you’re hungry and plan for a snack you enjoy. Keeping healthy snacks around is half the battle and limit the oversized bags of junk food,” she adds.
Sometimes the hardest part is determining what to snack on when you’re in the throes of hunger, and keeping healthy ingredients around the house to eat between meals will give you a leg up for prioritizing your wellbeing. Young notes that fruits, nuts and seeds, and veggies and hummus are some of the best snacks to eat when working towards losing weight as they will all satiate your hunger and keep you full until it’s time for your next meal. “Adding nuts and seeds to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can benefit the heart, brain and skin,” she says. “Almond butter and peanut butter also contain protein making them filling and tasty snacks. Almond butter and sliced apple makes for a great snack.”
Ultimately listening to your body and feeding yourself when you’re hungry is the healthiest route to take even when you’re working to lose weight. Snacking is not intrinsically bad for you and in fact, withholding food can have a more significant impact on your metabolism over time, leaving lasting damage on your body. That said, mindfully eating and finding nutrient dense snacks to fill your day with will provide the most significant weight loss results, allowing you to never feel hungry or deprived while working towards a body you feel comfortable in.