Winning the Battle Against Snacking!

Snacking is the arch-enemy of dieting. Although we all know this, that doesn’t make it any easier to combat the snack gremlin throughout the day.  The snack gremlin is actually called “Ghrelin”, a chemical substance which lines our stomach and is in the habit of sending signals to our brain to demand an immediate refill.  It doesn’t matter if you are an adult, or you have kids who can’t stop snacking their way through the day this battle is more like chemical warfare but the good news is there are several tactics that can help you to win the war!

Snacking Alternatives

Crisps; hmm, crunchy, salty or even those sweet versions.  Who can resist?  Well, you can.  Arm yourself with rice cakes, which provide a comforting crunch (our brains are bizarrely wired to be drawn to anything you can crunch).  Alternatively breadsticks (crunchy again, see?) and low fact cheese of the cream variety. 

Fruit juice needs to be substituted for sugar packed fizzy drinks wherever possible; this doesn’t just apply to kids.  However, kids can be harder to wean off the sugar packed, hyperactivity inducing beverage that contains more than a harmless fizz.  Fruit juice also contains sugar and, unless it’s 100 per cent pure fruit juice, there’s not a lot of point in substituting it.  If you can’t get the fizz factor out of the kid’s habit, mix fruit juice with sparkling water which seems, surprisingly, to work well!  You can also try this trick on yourself. 

If you’ve been good enough to make the transition to semi-skimmed milk, well done you.  However, it’s important to remember that any kids under two years old should actually be drinking full fat milk.  For older kids and adults semi-skimmed is fine and will be perfect as a base to healthy fruit smoothies made from your own fruit grown lovingly in the orchard – or delivered fresh each day in a fruit basket lovingly prepared by your local milkman. 

Ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.  Not surprising if you’ve read the ingredients.  Opt for frozen yogurt – way healthier – or simply yogurt with fruit.  Ice cream should be reserved for treats only.  Once you have the family onto frozen yogurt they’ll be begging for that anyway and won’t be too impressed when you wheel the old favourite of yesteryear. 

Fruit pies are just one of those easy purchases as you do the last minute dash around the supermarket between work, the school run, the after school run and so on. We probably read the word “fruit” and just ignore the word “pie”.  Generally, they’re fairly fatty types of concoction and if you want to take the pie out of the fruit you can simply bake fruit at home.  It doesn’t take long and it can be topped with low fat yogurt or even the frozen variety of yogurt.  Try it; it’s the best thing since fruit pie! 

Feeling Full is more than Half the Battle

Finally, the first rule of anti-snacking is to eat regular meals.  Kids especially should be on three good meals a day – but so should you.  The fuller you feel for longer the less inclined to snack you’ll be.  One recent study showed that a liquid lunch can help you to remain fuller for longer, we’re talking soups here before you dash merrily to the pub shouting “I’m on diet”.  Soups, homemade in bulk, are a great way to cram several bits of you’re ‘five a day in’ and also, as Soups are liquid, they’re digested slowly.  This leaves that annoying “Ghrelin” gremlin snoozing for the afternoon and not secretly signalling the word “crisps” to your brain.

Keeping a fruit basket full is only one part of the battle towards healthier snacking and substituting good snacks for bad will help towards a healthier diet.  Good snacking and healthy eating will help to reduce the calories in the diet and keep those snacking gremlins at bay.

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