Thursday, August 6, 2009

Survive the Snack Attack

Snacks are often just a part of life as we find ourselves hungry long before lunch or soon after. But don't let these cravings sabotage your resolve to eat healthy! Snacks can be a nourishing contribution to your diet, as well as a great pick-me-up in the afternoon. The key, as you may have guessed, is choosing the right snacks.
Here are some simple rules to follow to keep your snacks smart and healthy and prevent them from sabotaging your otherwise healthy diet:
1. Plan snacks ahead of time.
Know that you have one coming in an hour can really help get you past a dessert craving or walk past a candy dish. Keep smart snacks in your desk at work or even in your handbag so their available whenever the hungries start to overwhelm you. I'm a big fan of granola-type bars like those pictured above. Look for those providing less than 150 calories, and containing some vitamins and fiber. Also try to compare labels and choose the lowest fat grams per serving. If you have the storage facilities, other healthy snacks are fresh fruits (canned fruits work, too), yogurt (again, look for those under 150 calories per serving), string cheese, or a bowl of cereal.
2. Have that conversation with your inner child. When you hear that two-year-old having a tantrum in your head, screaming "I want a candy bar now", take a minute to address her instead of just trying to push her away with a loud 'NO'... after all, think about how that's worked for you in the past. Go ahead, even though it sounds silly, and ask her, "what is it you're looking for right now?". Chances are that part of you is stressed, or bored, or anxious, or--yes--maybe even hungry. If you're hungry, it's time for a healthy snack! If you're looking for something else, food won't really help. Consider taking a break from your desk, a quick walk, a drink of water, or emailing a friend to vent. Give yourself ten minutes to wait and see if the child settles down. Even if this works one or two times, you're getting some positive results!
3. Decide you want to live with healthy habits every day.
Develop a mantra to help you dedicate your behaviors to what really is important in your life. Whatever is meaningful to you (like, "I am nourishing my body and treating it right so it will treat me right when I'm older", or "I feel healthy when I eat healthy", or even "my body is my temple") write it down and post it everywhere until it becomes imbedded in your brain so it is a belief you don't even question!
Challenge your inner child when she starts whining and convince yourself to avoid the vending machine: How much satisfaction will you get from that candy bar? Most people answer "about two minutes"--as long as it takes to eat it! How long will you be feeling good about skipping the candy bar? As soon as the craving passes you'll be patting yourself on the back for at least the rest of the day! And the results will be showing on you for the rest of your life, every time you choose the better option.
Decide what's really important to you, and if it's living healthy, that includes eating healthy! Make up your mind to develop new habits and eat right every day, every hour. (And if you mess up one hour, don't beat yourself up about it! Just get back on track the very next minute and don't wait until Monday!)
Now go out and buy some healthy snacks so you can start living right, right now!

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