13 Tips to Curb Your Snacking Cravings

Mike Coutu

May 10, 2021

Some useful information that will help you switch your mindset around snacking to drop some weight.

1: Know the difference between hunger and appetite

Unfortunately, it is easy to confuse hunger and appetite. Appetite is produced by external stimuli, such as the sight or smell of food or simply feeling bored. Real feelings of hunger are produced when blood sugar begins to fall. The difference is that appetite goes away when you distract yourself with another activity. Next time you feel the urge to eat, distract yourself by going for a walk, talking to a friend, or doing your nails. If you’re still hungry then you know you need to eat.

2: Play relaxing music while you eat

Listening to music while you eat can help you lose weight. Studies have found that listening to relaxing music while eating makes you chew more slowly and eat less than when listening to frantic tunes.

3: Don’t be scared of fat

While cutting out high-fat foods will help you lose weight, don’t completely cut fat out from your diet. This would be unhealthy and hinder your progress. Including foods rich in essential fats – oily fish, avocados, nuts, olives and seeds – in moderation can help burn body fat more efficiently, improve aerobic capacity and boost immunity. Healthy fat also helps to give foods taste, so including it in moderation will help you stick to your eating plan. If you’re eating 1,500 calories a day, aim to consume 33–42g of healthy fats daily.

4: Eat slowly

You’ll eat 15 per cent fewer calories if you sit down and take time to eat your meal rather than eating on the go. Studies have shown that people eat up to 15 per cent more calories when they rush at mealtimes. Scoffing your meal down means that your hypothalamus – the part of the brain that senses when you are full – doesn’t receive the right signals, which explains why you may feel hungrier sooner if you rush a meal.

5: Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption

Alcohol calories count too: if you enjoy several alcoholic drinks in an evening, they can sabotage your fat-loss plan. Alcohol calories can’t be stored and have to be used as they are consumed – this means that calories excess to requirements from other foods get stored as fat instead. One small glass of red wine contains 85 calories and a bottle of lager beer contains 130 calories. If you have a drink, make sure you include it in your daily calorie allowance.

6: Drink water

Many people confuse thirst with hunger. Both thirst and hunger sensations are generated at the same time to indicate the brain’s needs. If you don’t recognise the sensation of thirst, you may assume that you are hungry and eat instead of drinking water. Next time you’re feeling peckish, drink a glass of water and wait ten minutes to see if you are still hungry. It is also good practice to be drinking mouthfuls of water every 10-20 minutes throughout the day. That way you will stay hydrated and be able to recognize the difference between thirst and hunger.

7: Eat whole food instead of drinking the juice

Eating fruit is one of the best things you can do for your health; aim for 2–4 portions daily. A glass of juice contains 120 calories but if you eat an orange instead, which is 60 calories, you’ll save 60 calories, consume more fibre and still get your daily vitamin C allowance. Both fruit juice and dried fruit contain much higher concentrations of sugar than the fresh fruit they came from and are less satiating. Although the fruit juice sugar is natural sugar, which is OK, some brands of juice will add more sugar to the drink.

8: Beware of ‘reduced-fat’ labels

Eating foods labelled ‘reduced-fat’ or ‘low-fat’ may make you feel like you’re doing things right but it can trick your brain into letting you overeat. Many lower-fat versions of cheese, ice cream, cakes and yogurt contain extra sugar or modified starch in place of the fat, making their calorie count just as high. Unfortunately, the body is not very good at regulating the intake of high-calorie food, whether the calories come from fat or carbohydrate. You may keep eating, thinking you’re being good, while actually you’re being overloaded with calories. You would be better off eating the occasional cookie or cake rather than regularly eating the reduced-fat versions. Always read the nutrition label and ingredients. See my recent post ‘How to Read Nutrition Labels the Right Way’ for more information.

9: Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry

If you go shopping when you’re hungry you will be tempted to fill up your shopping cart with high calorie junk foods. Make a shopping list before you hit the supermarket – that way you’ll avoid unplanned supermarket splurges in unhealthy foods, like frozen pizzas or ready-made meals, chips or chocolate, or high fat baked goods. If you shop with a list, you will be less likely to make impulsive food choices.

10: Replace half your carbohydrates with veggies

Try replacing half of your usual portion of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes) with vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, green beans or cauliflower. Instead of half the plate of potatoes, a quarter of meat, and a quarter of vegetables, increase the vegetables to half and decrease the potatoes to a quarter of the plate. That way you won’t feel like you’re eating less and will consume less calories.

11: Think before you snack

Do you snack on high-calorie foods during the day because you’re always in a rush? The solution is to prepare meals in advance or, perhaps, to take a supply of healthy snacks with you to eat between meals. Next time you are tempted to eat a chocolate bar or bag of chips, think to yourself: “Is this 230-calorie chocolate bar really worth me going over my daily calories?” Think of it like this also: that few minutes of enjoyment from the chocolate bar just cost you an hour of vigorous exercise to burn those calories away.

12: Have ready-made healthy snacks

Always carry healthy snacks, such as apples, snack bags of cut up vegetables, nuts or small protein bars, with you so you don’t end up at the vending machine or snack food counter when you feel hungry. This is a quick way to curb the cravings and keep your daily calories low.

13: Stock up on healthy foods

Keep a well-stocked supply of healthy foods that you love to make your fat-loss program easy. Decide which new foods you’re going to substitute for high-fat or sugary foods. This way, you’ll keep yourself on track and avoid the temptation of slipping back into old eating habits. Remember, fruit, vegetables, and wholegrain cereals give the best filling power for the minimum calories. They contain lots of water and fibre, which fill you up, slow down your eating speed and give best meal satisfaction. Choose the ones you like and stock up on those. Refer to my post ‘Top 10 Healthy Snacks To-Go’ to get more ideas.