Hungry for a snack? Take a minute to think first
You’ve been there before. It’s 8 p.m., and you’re just about to settle in to watch your favorite TV show when the little pang hits your stomach. The voice in your head whispers: “A snack would be good right now.”
Before you know it, you’re off the couch and rummaging through the kitchen to find something to nibble on. Inevitably, you pull out that old bag of stale chips, then head back to the living room to chow down.
What if instead of this habit, you took a couple of minutes to be mindful about what you want? That little pause to be thoughtful could make a big difference.
“Snacks are tempting. No doubt about it,” says Heather Klug, a dietitian with The Karen Yontz Women’s Cardiac Awareness Center at Aurora Health Care. “The key is to snack smarter. Take a couple of minutes to be mindful about what you want. Make sure you really are hungry before figuring out what you want to eat.”
To get started, when you get those familiar pangs, acknowledge them. Are you really hungry, or are you just thinking you should have a snack because that’s what you always do when you watch TV?
Concentrate on how your stomach is feeling. You might not be hungry at all. Try drinking a glass of water or chewing a piece of gum for 5 to 10 minutes first. Not enough to curb your appetite?
Maybe then you could use a snack. Here comes the fun part; what are you really hungry for? Do you need something sweet? Would you prefer something crunchy? Or are you craving something that feels cool and creamy in your mouth? Figure out what flavor/sensation you want to experience so that you choose the snack that will satiate you.
How can you make sure you don’t reach for something that’s overloaded with salt, sugar or saturated fat? Stock some go-to 100-calorie snacks in your cabinets or refrigerator, and you’ll be ready. If you have a sweet tooth, portion out bags of 20 grapes each and freeze them, have a cup and a half of berries or ½ oz. of the best dark chocolate you can buy. If you are in need of creaminess, puree one ripe banana and freeze it to make yourself some “nice” cream or freeze a tablespoon of peanut butter. For salt junkies, 15 olives or six pickle slices are your friend. If you want crunchiness, try some air-popped popcorn (2 cups) or lightly salted almonds (12 of them).
Taking those few minutes to be mindful about your snacking and swapping healthy options for chips and ice cream is a great way to make sure your snacks are working for your heart and stomach.
About the Author
Bethany DeBroux Adams (Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org), health enews contributor, is in charge of social media for The Karen Yontz Women’s Cardiac Awareness Center at Aurora Health Care. She holds a BA in English and an MA in Health Communication and has had a passion for writing ever since she can remember. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, taking her beloved beagle to the park, and spending time in any body of water she can dive into.