Snacking, grazing, something to get you through to dinner, whatever you call it – most of us do it. Whether your vice is something sweet, chewy, salty, crunchy or a combo of all four we all have our favorites. So why the heck do we eat all day and is there a way to keep it under control?

Why We Snack

There are a ton of other reasons why we eat throughout the day:

  1. Emotional eating like boredom, celebration, or stress.
  2. Wanting to lose more weight.
  3. Tough physical or mental activity.
  4. Making it to dinner if you are already feeling hungry by 3:30 pm.
  5. Cravings based on nutritional needs.

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush 94% of Americans say that they snack at least one time per day, while 50% of adults say that they have treats two or three times a day. To say that you are going to stop snacking and just eat your 3 square meals is crazy talk. Whatever your reason to reduce the random calorie intake you either have to have superhuman will power or you might want to think about ditching the concept all together. Yes, it is a commendable goal, but it’s of even greater importance that you set yourself up to succeed. In other words you are probably one of those 94% of Americans that are getting their grub on in between meals. Knowing this, how can you make better choices when it comes to snacking?

Tips to Make Smarter Snacking Decisions 

When shopping for snacks, do not go hungry. Don’t fall into the classic “eyes are bigger than your stomach” trap. Instead make a simple and concise grocery list.

As crazy as this is sounds, research first. 51% of people who snack are more concerned about the flavor than how healthy it is. If snacks make up a quarter of our daily calorie intake we had better make sure that those calories are not wasted strictly on flavor.  Yes, healthier options can be more expensive, but if 25 % of your daily calories are coming through this avenue let’s pick things that are going to keep your tummy and self-image happy.

Choose your meal size and sleep time wisely. People who don’t eat large enough meals or are staying up later in the night are more prone to having snack attacks. Around 8 pm, when your body has used up a lot of its cortisol (your wake up and get going/stress hormone) and is tired, there is a spike in cravings for salty, starchy, and sweet treats. These foods will keep you up later into the night due to the increase of energy and people who don’t sleep well have less ability to say no to unhealthy choices the next day. Go to sleep earlier or eat a bigger dinner to break the snack cycle.

If you want to know what may be triggering your snacking, keep a journal or type it into your phone. Whenever you feel like grazing write down the food you want, what emotional state you are in, and whether or not you are with other people. This is an extremely eye opening practice.

Snack Wrap Up

It is important to note that in no way am I knocking these little pleasure throughout our day. I believe that when we are given solid information upon which to make decisions we have the opportunity to change habits that we have and that is what I hope this post has done for you.

So to wrap up a) you are probably a snacker, b) do research on snacks that are both yummy and nutritionally dense because snacking really does make up a sizable portion of your calories, and c) be aware of when you snacking and when cravings come up.