Having trouble breaking that midday unhealthy snacking routine? Find out some tricks that may help break the vicious cycle!
Uh oh… it’s that time of day again. You know, that hour when you are suddenly feeling tired, unfocused, and ready for that afternoon pick-me-up. I refer to it as the Midday Monster; that little hunger feeling that creeps up and causes us to crave something tasty. The trouble is, usually that midday snack is an unhealthy one. We tend to gravitate towards something sweet, caffeinated, or carb-loaded. This is because those “feel-good” foods and drinks, typically do just that – they make us feel good. Food and drinks high in sugar can cause the dopamine levels, or the “feel-good” hormones, in our brains to rise.1 Unfortunately, the old idiom too much of a good thing, rings all too true.
Overindulgence, whether it be a midday snack or a late night one, can be harmful to our bodies. Nevertheless, quitting cold turkey is easier said than done. Old habits are hard to kick, but the key to remember is that there are ways to change poor snacking habits. It’s a process that begins with baby steps. Before reaching for that bag of chips, or sweets, take a moment to ask yourself, ”Am I really hungry?“ A lot of the time we snack out of boredom or stress. Try drinking some water and see if that helps. Oftentimes, hunger can be confused with dehydration.2 Save yourself the unneeded calories and drink some refreshing H20.
Still feeling hungry? Rid yourself of unhealthy temptations by keeping only healthy snacks close by. The key is to find foods to snack on that are high in fiber, which may keep you feeling fuller, longer.3 A few of these healthier options include: hummus and veggies, almonds, cereal bars, and raspberries. Or, grab a snack that helps boost metabolism and burn fat. Some examples of these fat-burning foods include: apples, avocados and cottage cheese, or canned tuna on whole-wheat crackers.4 If you’re looking for a healthy alternative for your go-to calorie-filled lattes, try some minty green iced tea.
Another source of unhealthy snacking can be caused from skipping your morning breakfast.5 If you starve yourself in the morning, you typically have greater odds of overindulging later on in the day. Make sure you make time for breakfast, and save yourself later on.
Another interesting tactic to consider is brushing and/or flossing your teeth after eating, which helps reduce the temptation to eat.6 Once your teeth are clean, you’ll be less likely to grab something to snack on, in order to avoid brushing again.
In addition, it is helpful to meal plan. LA Fitness registered dietitian, Debbie J., RDN says, “Having a blueprint to follow for your week’s meals will help keep you eating regularly and on track, thus prevent you from skipping meals, so you’ll be less likely to snack.” Make things easier on yourself by preparing a few healthy snacks the night before. This way, you’re not tempted to grab for something unhealthy when you’re feeling stressed, tired, or on-the-go.
Check out one of our more recent Q+A’s from LA Fitness’ registered dietitian, Debbie J., MS, RDN, where she helps answer What Are Good Substitutions for Sugary and Salty Snacks? If you have a nutrition question of your own, please share it with us by submitting a question here, and your answer may be featured in a future post.
- Pirisi, Angela. “A Real Sugar High?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 1 Jan. 2003. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
- POPSUGAR Fitness. “7 Tips to Curb Your Appetite.” Shape Magazine. N.p., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
- Goldman, Alison. “15 Healthy High-Fiber Foods That Make You Feel Full and Satisfied.” Women’s Health. N.p., 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
- MacMillan, Amanda. “20 Snacks That Burn Fat.” Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
- Cymbalista-Clapp, Julian. “10 Bad Habits and the Best Ways to Quit Them | Reader’s Digest.” Reader’s Digest. N.p., 20 June 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
- “Avoid Unhealthy Eating Habits.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.