If you haven’t already heard the news, diets are out and lifestyle changes are in. But arguably, the hardest part about lifestyle changes is the blurred parameters of what you “can” and “can’t” do. Diets have specific rules of what is good and bad, while making good lifestyle decisions takes more constant brainpower. Which leads us to our next question: how do you snack without upsetting the balance or keeping yourself from enjoying a night out? There are 3 things to always remember about snacking:
#1 Have a plan and be mindful.
Life is busy and unpredictable. We get it. Sometimes you’re not able to avoid the candy bowl at your office or your kids' pop-tarts in the cupboard. But what you can do is have a plan in mind for your day. Knowing you have a few good meals to balance out your day and get your protein can ease your mind when deciding to snack. Pack healthy snacks in advance for on-the-go hunger pangs and peace of mind that you’re staying on track. When you’re presented with the opportunity to snack on something that’s less than favorable to your macro-balanced day, be mindful about how much you’re eating. Remember: it’s okay to enjoy and indulge but be realistic about the amount you're intaking. Make a mental note to prioritize lean protein and leafy greens at your next meal or snack. There are countless opportunities in your day to choose a healthier option. Just because you don’t make the healthiest option every time doesn’t mean your day is a complete loss.
#2 Portions, portions, portions!
I know we never shut up about it. But that’s because PORTIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT! Especially when it comes to unsolicited snacking. Again, be realistic and aware of how much you’re putting into your body. For example, instead of eating chips or cookies right out of the bag put a portion size of your indulgent snack onto a separate plate. This technique will allow you to visualize how many calories you’re consuming and serves as a physical prompt if you decide to get seconds.
Reading food labels is essential for awareness and portion control. Make sure you pay attention to what the container says is a portion size and how many calories are in each. Reading food labels takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to “eyeball” portion sizes. It’s not about being perfect every time, it’s about working within your means and being mindful. If you’re out at a restaurant or in a situation where food labels are not available, your hand is a great tool for measuring portions. Your palm = a serving size of protein, your fist = a serving of vegetables or carbs (rice, fries, chips, etc.), your thumb = a serving size of fat (sour cream, most dressings, butter, guacamole)
#3 Keep in mind the bigger picture.
Ultimately when it comes to choosing snacks, keep in mind the bigger picture of your day. Have you made healthy decisions for the majority of your day? Have you eaten quality protein at each meal? Have you had enough water? How many empty calories does the snack contain? Have you been able to exercise or get a short walk in throughout the day? Is your snack choice based on emotion? Lifestyle changes are about balance. Some days will be better than others, just as some meals will be of higher quality than others. It’s all a part of the ebb and flow of creating healthy habits. Sticking to a lifestyle change is not about perfecting or judging your decisions as “good” or “bad." It’s about practicing making healthy decisions every opportunity you’re given.
Plan, be mindful, portion and enjoy. Continue to adapt, practice and recognize each opportunity as it presents itself to you. For more mindfulness tips, check out our guide to intuitive eating!