Finding the Right Snacking Balance on a Low-Glycemic Diet
Snacking is one of the biggest challenges people face with weight loss. You may find yourself grazing throughout the day because of time, or you may discover that you tend to wait too long to eat, which can affect your metabolism. Finding the right snacking balance will help you stick to your low-glycemic guidelines and reach your weight-loss goals.
The negative effect of mindless grazing
Grazing is a typically mindless way of snacking, meaning you don't know how many crackers you just ate, and you probably aren't paying too much attention to the calorie count of the large mocha and scone you just grabbed at the local coffee shop.
The result of mindless grazing? Much higher calorie levels and glycemic load than you can possibly imagine. Those calories add up without you even realizing it, because you feel like you're eating very little throughout the day.
You have probably occasionally found yourself picking on food items throughout the day without being mindful of the amount and kinds of foods you're choosing. But do you really understand why that happens?
Following are a few reasons why people find themselves in grazing patterns, as well as ways to avoid falling into the mindless grazing trap:
Feeling like there's not enough time in the day: People are busier these days than ever. Grabbing whatever's around therefore seems much easier than taking the time to choose a nutritious snack. However, snacking healthfully is actually quite easy if you make eating a priority.
But if you don't make your meals and snacks a priority in your life, you'll completely lose focus of your weight-loss goals. Prioritizing healthy eating doesn't have to mean huge amounts of time or effort, just a little forethought. The payoff is totally worth it: If your body is properly nourished, you can tackle your busy day with gusto!
Eating because of emotions or stress: This is a big culprit for many people. You may find yourself reaching for a soda and a quick snack from the vending machine many times during a stressful day. Awareness is the key to emotional eating. Keeping records of your food intake and emotions doesn't take much time but is valuable in becoming aware of and overcoming your old habits and emotional-eating triggers.
Wanting to keep junk food out for the kids: Although the occasional treat is nice, leaving junk food such as chips and cookies on your countertop is a big trap. It's so easy to grab a cookie here and a few chips there. Before you know it, that mindless grazing has added up to a whole day's worth of calories.
Keep your countertops clear of junk food and put out a bowl of fruit instead. You'll be amazed how your family will eat better choices when that's all you give them, and you won't be tempted by just a bite here and there.
The problem with waiting too long to eat
Waiting too long to eat a meal or a snack is the exact opposite behavior of mindless grazing. Going five to seven hours without eating anything can negatively affect your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories).
Your body recognizes when it's out of fresh sources for energy (read: meals and snacks), so it begins to slow down the rate at which it uses calories to compensate for this lack of energy — that's the exact opposite of what you want to happen for weight loss!
When you wait too long to eat, you typically wind up eating way too much whenever you do finally sit down to a meal. What's wrong with that? Well, you're consuming more calories on a slower metabolism. If that scenario is the norm for you, losing weight is going to be pretty difficult.
The point of all this is simple: You really do need to eat to lose weight. Planning out your meals and snacks (and taking the time to eat what you planned) are steps on the road to weight-loss success.