July 29, 2023

How To Make Snacking A Healthy And Consistent Part Of Your Life

Susan lost 8 lbs in two months by watching her snacking habitsA few weeks ago, I posted an older LIVEstream video snippet on Mojo’s Instagram. In the back row, you can see Susan Simpson jamming it out. While she has always been very energetic and fitness-focused, I was taken aback by how much more youthful and lighter on her feet she is now compared to six months ago. When I asked her about it, she admitted to me that she recently lost 8 lbs in only two months.

Yikes! That is a lot of weight loss in such a short period of time, especially for someone her age (70ish) and as small as she is. What was even more perplexing to me was that Susan was already a three times a week Mojo friend before she lost weight. When I asked her secret on losing the extra lbs so quickly, I was surprised, but not surprised, at her response…

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to lose a little weight in anticipation of a trip to the Caribbean.  At first, I started “dieting” (eating less), but I found that it drained my energy in class and I did not like the way it felt. 

I’ve always eaten fairly healthy and have been regular at exercising, so I decided to track what I was eating. I found that in addition to my regular meals, I was consuming about 500 calories a day snacking between meals and after dinner on things like pretzels, crackers, and chips. So I made a conscious decision to eliminate the snacks. I also decided to eat dinner earlier, limit alcohol and not eat anything after dinner. 

I didn’t follow a particular diet, but by eliminating the unhealthy snacks and making healthy choices at meals I was able to lose 8 lbs in 2 months. Now when I want a snack I reach for fruit instead of the salty snacks I had been eating. I try to drink more water and lastly dance up a storm at Mojo 3 times a week. (Fantastic tips Susan. Thanks for sharing!)

Susan’s success story made me wake up and take an honest look at my own snacking behavior, including countless handfuls of chips or crackers I eat almost every single day, not to mention how much picking I do while cooking. With her story as my inspiration, I decided to do a deep dive into the art of snacking. I hope you will join me! 

With longer summer days, comes more opportunities to eat and drink. So when my clothes were feeling more snug than usual, it was a clear sign to re-negotiate some of my behaviors.

Since I already have a challenging, consistent exercise regimen and I eat reasonably healthy meals, I wasn’t sure where to start–until Susan’s snacking success story gave me a swift kick in the booty. Her story made me realize I am a bit of a “mindless snacker”.

According to research, only 5% of our actions are truly intentional and one of the top reasons we gain weight is not always what we eat, but how much we eat mindlessly.

Reality Check:
If you are looking to lose weight, being aware of the calorie count is part of the drill.

It takes 3500 calories to gain or lose a pound. To maintain our weight an ideal daily intake of calories varies depending on age, metabolism, and levels of physical activity. The general recommended daily calorie intake is 1600- 2,400 calories a day for women and 2000- 3000 for men. If you are looking to lose weight, you should eat less. 

According to the US Department of Health, If you are looking to lose weight, you should eat between

  • 200 and 400 calories for breakfast
  • 500-700 calories for lunch
  • 500-700 calories for dinner
So where does snacking fit in? According to Harvard University, healthy snacking can be a helpful way to keep our energy replenished. But if you are Mojo-ing regularly and you’re eating empty (junky) calories as a reward or eating too much of a good thing, you’re like a gardener who plants seeds in good soil but then waters them with salt water.

When we work out, our muscles use up their glycogen — the body’s preferred fuel source, especially during high-intensity workouts. This results in our muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Our body rebuilds glycogen stores and regrows those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after we exercise can help our body get this done faster. It’s especially important to eat carbs and protein after working out.

While healthy snacking is good for us, a general rule of thumb is to aim for about 150-250 calories per snack to keep your weight in check. Unfortunately, it’s easy to go overboard.

Case in point: Nuts! The fave and easiest go-to snacks in our house are nuts. They are rich in protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Only problem is they are high in calorie content. One handful of nuts can be hundreds of calores, depending on the nut. (Yikes! Until now, I never kept track of how many nuts I ate)
Are you a mindless snacker, like me? Try these tips for snacking on the go without ruining your diet:
  • Choose healthy snacks. Healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and yogurt. These foods are low in calories and high in nutrients, so they can help you feel full without adding too much weight.
  • Be aware of serving size and the caloric intake. It’s shocking how quickly calories add up. Likewise, it’s exciting how quickly you can lose weight, once you are more aware of what you are eating. A healthy snack should be about the size of your fist. If you find yourself eating more than that, it’s time to put the snack away.
  • Avoid snacking late at night. Northwestern University researchers found that eating at night led to twice as much weight gain — even when total calories consumed were the same during the day.
  • If you’re hungry between meals, try drinking a glass of water. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger.
  • Eating high-calorie snacks (junk food). If you’re going to snack, make sure you choose healthy options that are low in calories and high in nutrients.
  • Eating in response to stress or boredom. Sometimes people snack in response to stress or boredom. If you find yourself snacking when you’re not actually hungry, try to find other ways to cope, such as Mojo, relaxation techniques, or spending time with friends and family.

Trying to break unhealthy snacking habits? Some ideas to try:

 • Plan your snacks. Decide in advance what you’re going to snack on and when you’re going to eat it. This will help you avoid impulse snacking.
    • Choose healthy snacks. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and yogurt. This will make it easy to grab a healthy snack when you’re hungry.
    • Make a rule to only snack in certain places. This could be your kitchen, your dining room, or your living room. This will help you avoid snacking in front of the TV or while you’re working.
    • Take a break from snacking. If you find yourself snacking too often, try taking a break from snacking for a week or two. This will help you reset your habits and make it easier to break unhealthy snacking patterns.

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