Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How To Keep Grazing without Gaining Weight

Doughnuts, donutsBritish women are the fattest in Europe with a QUARTER so overweight their health's at risk.” This was a headline in the Daily Mail on the 26th of November. Not exactly something to be proud of. We haven’t quite reached the levels seen in the US, but it won’t be long, unless something changes.


The reasons for our increasing waistlines are numerous. Overeating, excessive portion sizes, too much fatty or sugary food, easy access to convenience foods and the habit of constant grazing throughout the day. These are just a few of the explanations cited by various medical and health experts.

The habit of snacking throughout the day, whether or not we feel hungry, must surely account for much of the excess weight many of us find ourselves saddled with. Those little treats we absent-mindedly pop into our mouth without really registering them, all clock up extra calories, often equating to one or more meals. If you’re also eating three regular meals, you could end up with a serious weight problem.

Grazing and snacking throughout the day, however, has become a way of life for many. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this if what you’re eating is healthy and it’s not causing you to gain weight. Indeed, many people find the ‘little and often’ approach to eating works much better for them. But if you enjoy grazing through the day and find you’re gaining weight, there are several ways to help make sure you don’t end up as another obesity statistic.

1. Beware of calories in healthy snacks

Choose your snack foods carefully and watch out for hidden calories. Obviously, if you’re snacking on crisps, chocolate, doughnuts and biscuits all day, you’re more likely to gain weight. But equally, munching on some healthy foods such as nuts, dried fruit and seeds, can also result in weight gain as they are high in fat or sugar. Keep eating dried fruit, nuts and seeds if you like them as they're full of vitamins and minerals, but keep the portions small - 25g or a small handful.

2. Split lunch into smaller snacks

Replace a meal such as lunch with several smaller, healthy and low calorie snacks to provide slow release energy and keep you full for longer. Aim to eat low GL (Glycemic Load) foods which fit these criteria. Examples include most berries, oat cakes, rye bread, sugar free nut butters, low fat houmous and low fat protein foods such as lean chicken.

3. Choose more filling snacks

Choose snacks which take longer to eat or those which will fill you up on fewer calories. Examples include fat-free popcorn which can take a while to get through or half a made up pack of sugar free jelly (20 calories) mixed with some low fat natural, live yogurt. Prepare your own snack foods at home to take to work. Things like carrot sticks, houmous dips and rice or oat cakes, small portions of chopped fruit and low fat, sugar free yogurt are healthy snacks.


4. Buy low calorie pre-packed snacks

Keep portion sizes small and calorie counted (100 calories or less). When buying pre-packed snacks, choose lower calorie packs such as Ryvita Minis, small boxes of raisins, Innocent Fruit tubes or many of the products mentioned on this site.


5. Drink between snacks

Drink regularly in between your snacks. By drinking regularly you help fill your stomach which can delay your desire to eat for a while. Often when we feel hungry, we're really just dehydrated and a drink can take away that hunger. Just ensure whatever you’re drinking is sugar free or low calorie.


6. Chew gum between snacks

Alternate each of your snacks by chewing on some sugar free gum. When you’re chewing gum, you’re less likely to grab a biscuit etc. because you have to take the gum out of your mouth first, and this isn’t always convenient!


Just because you enjoy grazing, doesn’t mean you’ll end up gaining weight. Choose your snacks wisely and if necessary, replace lunch with smaller, low calorie snacks to be eaten hourly during the day. And if you’ve grazed through all your snacks, you can always chew on some sugar free chewing gum which is great for preventing the temptation to idly snack on any food that catches your attention.


© Diets and Calories 2013

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