Avoid Unhealthy Eating: Postpone a Snack

February 15, 2012

How to snack healthy and avoid cravings for candy, chips, greasy foods and anything else you’re trying to avoid? Postpone the snack!

How to snack healthy and avoid the cravings for candy, chips, greasy foods and anything else you’re trying to avoid? Well a new study from Portugal found that if you postpone the snack craving for an indefinite amount of time, the desire for that food decreases – and you may even eat less of that food over time.

The studies were conducted by Nicole Mead, PhD, and assistant professor at Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal. Mead commented that, “when a craving hits, people often think they have two choices, giving in, or resisting… if you give in, you are usually feeling guilty… if you resist, you often feel deprived and you might overindulge later on.” She feels there is a third option, which will also help you eat less of the food over time: postpone the snack and tell yourself you can have it later.

Mead’s various studies put participants in situations where they were either told they could eat the snack in front of them, not eat it, or told they could have them later – while they watched movie clips. Results: the group told not to eat the candies ate the most, while those told to eat freely as well as those asked to postpone, ate about half the amount. The group that was told they could eat the snack later ate the least.

Why does this work? Researchers believe that postponing gives the mind a cooling-off period as well as taking you out of feeling either guilty or deprived. Keep in mind that postponing a snack has to be nonspecific, say to yourself – I’ll have the candy later if I want it.

Now that we know how to postpone and avoid unhealthy snacking – here are some of SupermarketGuru’s favorite healthy snack tips:

Fresh fruit! It’s so easy to buy and to have around the house, just peel a banana and enjoy! Have an apple or sink your teeth into a juice pear or peach. There's always something from the fruit world in season whether it's stone fruit or berries in the summer or apples and oranges year 'round. Frozen berries and other fruits taste great defrosted and mixed in with cottage cheese, some ricotta cheese or even plain yogurt.

High protein dairy snacks are delicious; try low-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with your favorite seasonings like chili pepper, pepper, or Italian spices, or serve with a circle of pineapple, chopped pears or apples. Other good choices include one to two ounces of cheddar cheese with apples or whole grain crackers, or a thick slice of mozzarella with a slice of fresh tomato with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Some other high-protein snacks include a small bottle of kefir (a yogurt-like drink) or mozzarella string cheese.

On cold wintry days, think hot for snacks: hot vegetable soup, hot home-made chicken soup, hot stir fried veggies with brown rice, or a bowl of hot cereal like oatmeal topped with a spoonful of plain unsweetened apple sauce for sweetening.

Small quantities of raisins or currants, nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds, walnuts) or a homemade trail mix of raisins and nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds are both sweet and salty.

Peanut, almond, sunflower, and other nut butters aren’t just for sandwiches. Slather on sliced apples, or fill celery crudités, or add it to delicious whole grain crackers. Nut butters are excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins.

Happy healthy snacking!