6 ways to turn mindless snacking into a healthy habit

6 ways to turn mindless snacking into a healthy habit

It’s the sworn enemy of any healthy lifestyle – but, done right, snacking can help you reach peak health

In the work-from-home era, it’s never been more tempting to combat your 3pm slump with a trip to the back of the kitchen cupboard. But if you’re looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there’s little that will derail you faster than a half-empty pack of Hobnobs or a mid-afternoon slice of buttery toast.

The bad news? We can’t stop you wanting to snack. You’re human. But we can help you snack the right way. Done right, snacking can be fuel for your fitness aims – or just much better for your body than a host of empty calories. Follow the tips below, and start making the most of mindful snacking.

 

1. CREATE A ROUTINE

Sticking to a set routine is key in curbing unhealthy habits. But while it’s easy enough to say ‘I won’t snack this afternoon,’ that’ll go out the window once you’re faced with those late-morning or mid-afternoon hunger pangs.

Here’s an idea: after you’ve taken your morning vitamins (from Personalised Co, of course), opt for a protein-rich breakfast like oats with nut butter or smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. According to one study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,¹ eating a protein-rich breakfast can alter the neural signals which make you hungry later in the day.

Bite-sized advice: If you don’t want to feel hungry later on, make sure you get enough protein in at breakfast time – think eggs, nut butters and natural yoghurts

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2. FILL UP ON FLUIDS

While water might not exactly fill the same hole as a fresh-baked doughnut, it can have an important role in staving off cravings – several studies have linked drinking water to decreased appetite² and decreased calorie intake at mealtimes, especially in older adults.³

And while younger snackers might need no encouragement to brew that morning coffee, here’s some anyway: research⁴ shows that drinking coffee can combat hunger by increasing levels of the satiety hormone PYY. If coffee isn’t your thing, try green tea instead. It’s full of antioxidants, and has been linked with metabolism-boosting and fat-burning capabilities.⁵

Bite-sized advice: If you’re hungry, have a glass of water or a caffeinated drink instead. If you’re still hungry afterwards, you can eat.

 

3. EXCHANGE YOUR GOODS

If your kitchen’s full of crisps and Smarties, you’re going to eat crisps and Smarties. Healthy snacking starts in the supermarket, so get accustomed to filling your trolley with healthy alternatives to your usual favourite treats. 

Swap sweets and chocolate for dried fruit and nuts – both are filled with fiber, and the latter will provide a filling protein fix. And if you find yourself getting hungry before bed, swap that cheesecake for low-fat cottage cheese. It’s packed with casein – a unique protein which keeps your muscles healthy and strong while you sleep.

Bite-sized advice: Instead of buying sweet snacks, fill your trolley with nutrient-rich ‘paleo’ alternatives like fresh berries, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

 

4. MIND YOUR TRIGGERS

Health-harming habits are all about triggers. Just looking at unhealthy snacks can be one – research in the International Journal of Obesity found that, when in sight, participants were much more likely to gorge themselves on chocolate. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that.

Another trigger? You’re looking at it right now. According to Harvard Medical School,⁷ eating in front of a screen can lead to overeating later on. That’s because the memory of eating a meal can be just as important in making you feel satiated as the meal itself.

Bite-sized advice: Be mindful of your meals, and create positive triggers by keeping healthy snacks within easy reach – right next to your Personalised Co vitamin tower.

 

5. TAKE A MOMENT

Slowing down at mealtimes can stop snacking in its tracks. In one study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, participants who ate meals slower felt more full and less hungry one hour after eating.

And if you can’t help but bolt down your food (we’ve all been there), at least sit tight before grabbing a post-meal snack – science says that it can take 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know it’s full.

Bite-sized advice: Eat your meals slower to feel fuller later on, and wait for at least 20 minutes after eating before deciding on dessert.

 

6. SUPPLEMENT YOUR SNACKING

Healthy snacks are all the range, but do take ‘health’ foods with a pinch of salt – many are filled with unsavoury ingredients, and a review in Physiology & Behaviour mentions an effect termed the ‘health halo’ – you’re more likely to overeat when snacking on foods considered healthy. 

That said, certain supplements can help curb snacking. Protein shakes, for example, have been linked by numerous studies to a host of appetite-friendly benefits – drinking them can reduce levels of hunger hormone ghrelin while boosting other appetite-lowering hormones.⁹

Bite-sized advice: Supplement your diet with protein shakes and health supplements, while avoiding ‘health snacks’ with hidden sugars and high calorie counts.

If you’re looking for supplements, you’ve come to the right place – check out our range of protein powders here. Even better, click here to start your free personalised quiz to get tailored vitamin recommendations, just for you. 

You’ll then have the option to buy 30 days of Personalised Vitamins, delivered straight to your door in 'on-the-go' sachets. Cheaper than your daily coffee!

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Citations:

¹ https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/97/4/677/4576985?searchresult=1

² https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17228036/

³ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18589036/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2012.10720023

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-tea-and-weight-loss

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16418755/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/distracted-eating-may-add-to-weight-gain-201303296037

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3544627/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-shakes-weight-loss#section2