How to Fix Your Poor Snacking Habits

by Matt Weik

Are you a cereal snacker? Oops. I mean serial snacker… or maybe you’re both? Regardless, many of us face the cold hard facts that the things we eat out of convenience are not always the best options for us. We pick up individual bags of potato chips, pretzels, crackers, etc. in an effort to subside our hunger during the day or late at night. Many of these choices could be causing your weight loss goals to stall.

The hustle is real

We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. We go to work, we go home, we go to the gym, we go to the grocery store, we go to meetings, we go… everywhere. Unless you meal prep (which you should), you’re going to find yourself without food during the day. And when that happens, we tend to go for the quickest and cheapest option—which also just so happens to be a poor nutritional option.

Endless options

Go to any vending machine and tell me there aren’t enough options for you to choose from. Go to the gas station or convenience store and tell me they don’t have enough options as you walk up and down the aisles. There’s such a wide variety of snack options out there that we simply go with what we are used to seeing—chips, pretzels, crackers, candy. None of these options are ones that I would recommend. These options simply leave you sulking in carb-overload and regretting your snacking decision shortly after. There is a fix, but it will force you to have some self-control when you’re in need of a quick snack option to hold you over until your next meal.

Protein-packed punch

Just about everywhere you go these days, you can find a better snacking alternative to the high-carb varieties. The easiest thing for you to do would to always have snacks on hand. These can be protein bars, protein shakes, trail mix, nuts, yogurt, fruit, nut butters, etc. If you are a serial snacker and you have one or two snacks a day that you generally purchase at work, not only can you save money by taking your own, but you can save your waistline as well.

When on the go, you can find items such as vegetable and hummus containers, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese with fruit or nuts, protein bars, RTD protein shakes in the coolers, fruit and peanut butter containers, pre-made salads with grilled chicken, and many other healthy choices.

If you are making your own snack, portioning it out will set you up for success. Many people purchase large bags or boxes of items and then before they know it, they have no clue how much they consumed already. Or they take a Ziploc back and fill it up without correctly portioning it using the serving size as a reference. For that reason, portion control is key.

It’s not difficult to consume hundreds or even over a thousand calories if you aren’t paying attention to how much you are eating. For that reason, pack your snack(s) at home in the correct portions so you don’t need to guess later in the day when you start eating your snack. Look for items to pack that are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, along with an assortment of vitamins and minerals.

Some healthy options to consider would be a variety of nuts, trial mix, an apple with natural peanut butter, an apple with yogurt, a banana with almond butter, yogurt with nuts, celery with natural peanut butter, carrots and/or celery with hummus, a protein or nutrition bar, an RTD protein shake or protein powder along with a shaker bottle, string cheese and an apple, whole-grain crackers topped with mashed avocado. The list could go on and on.

You can either pack something that stays in your bag each day until you need it, or keep something in your car/office. In fact, there’s a way to protect yourself in the event you forget your snack option(s) at home.

Have a back-up plan in place

We all have “senior moments” even at a young age. You’re in a rush because you got a late start to the day and you’re going to be late for work so you quickly grab all of your belongings and out the door you go—without packing or grabbing your snacks. Don’t worry, not all is lost if you already had a back-up plan put in place.

What I recommend everyone do is keep some protein bars or a container/bag of nuts at their place of employment. Keep them in a desk drawer and away from prying eyes—not doing so is a good way to have your snack items go missing. With something always at your office, you have no excuse why you would be meandering over to the vending machine at all.

Now, the idea here is that you don’t use your “back-up” as your main source. If you do decide that’s the best route for you, then you need to stay on top of your stash and ensure when you are getting low, that you replenish anything that is either going bad or empty.