An area where many people fail on their weight loss journey is when it comes to snacks. Snacking mistakes can set you back hundreds of calories, if not more, when you're not paying attention. This can be anything from an afternoon snack to a late-night snack before bed. If you aren't planning ahead and understanding the concepts I'm about to share with you, it can cause your weight loss progress to slam on the brakes.
I want you to reach the target weight that you set out to hit, so in an effort to provide some assistance, I have come up with six snacking mistakes you may be making that could be hindering your weight loss. Read them. Understand them. Prevent them. And you'll see the number on the scale going down (assuming the rest of your nutrition is on point).
1. Eating directly from the packaging
One of the most common snacking mistakes that people make is eating directly from the source's packaging. For instance, if you are eating "just a few" of something but you don't "keep your hand out of the cookie jar," you will be tempted to continue reaching in and grabbing more.
What you should be doing is taking out the appropriate serving size (which I will touch on next) and then sealing the box or bag back up and put it away.
2. Not paying attention to portion sizes
Piggy-backing off of what I said in #1, you need to pay attention to serving sizes. Not only is it important to NOT eat directly from the packaging, but you also don't want to simply dump a bunch of something out into a bowl and dig in. When you are striving for weight loss, you can't afford to make snacking mistakes and consume multiple servings of something without making sure it fits into your daily food plan.
Look at the label and see how much is considered a serving. Check to make sure it's an option that fits your caloric intake for the day as well as your daily macros. And if it does, correctly portion the snack out.
3. "Snack-size" isn't always a good option
I don't want to downplay the effort some brands are making in attempting to improve the health of their consumer by creating a "snack-size" option that, in a nutshell, provides single-serving options of their product. This is awesome, and it definitely can help people with their weight loss. However, this is also a common snacking mistake simply because the marketing behind the product is making it sound like it's a healthy or healthier option – and it may not be.
Just because you have a "snack-size" version of deliciously unhealthy cookies doesn't magically make them healthier. It merely limits how many you're going to eat according to the size of the single-serving packaging.
4. Forgetting a snack and scrambling to find one
When it comes to snacking mistakes, this one is most common in the afternoons when people are at work. Let me paint a scenario for you. It's 2pm, your stomach starts growling, what do you do? Look for a snack, right? What if you don't have one? You head to the vending machine, no? What's in the vending machine? Absolutely nothing healthy that you should be considering. Most of what you find in vending machines are full of carbohydrates, fats, and sugar. So, what should you do? Plan ahead.
I'm not naïve to think that every once in a while if you pack a snack that you'll forget it at home. It happens. For that reason, I want you to plan ahead and take it one step further. What I mean by this is have healthy snack options available at your work. More specifically, in your desk drawer.
These healthy snacks you keep at work can be nuts, protein bars, nutrition bars, protein powder, trail mix, beef jerky, or even protein RTD shakes if you have a mini-fridge in your office or are able to keep things in the shared employee refrigerator and not have people swipe them.
5. Snacking because you're bored
I'm sure you've done this – heck, I have too. It's late at night, and you're relaxing on the couch. You decide to put on the television for a little bit to unwind and decided to grab a snack to pass the time. You're not even hungry, you're just bored, and to keep busy while watching television, you grab a bite to eat.
This is a bad idea for many reasons. The first is it goes back to #1 and #2. You're probably going to end up eating from the packaging and not paying attention to portion sizes. These late-night snacks could add hundreds of calories and completely disrupt your weight loss progress. If you're not hungry, don't eat.
If this is a repetitive behavior that you do each night, you could actually end up GAINING a substantial amount of weight on a weekly basis and be left scratching your head where you're going wrong.
6. Skipping a snack completely
You may be thinking this is a great idea but skipping a snack is just as bad as eating an unhealthy snack. Why? Because not only are you going to be left hungry, but you're more likely to binge on food later on due to completely skipping a snack. This is one of the snacking mistakes that not a lot of people think about. They believe if they don't snack at all, even when they're hungry, they will be better off. While that may work for some, it won't work for most.
Rather than fighting the urge to snack, simply find a healthy snack option and crush your craving before making a poor choice. If you're craving something sweet (which many face in the middle of the day), your body can actually be telling you that it's craving fat (not sugar). Personally, I recommend that people keep some sort of nut in their desk drawer. This can be peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, pecans, mixed nuts, whatever. But they can actually curb your hunger as well as your sweet tooth.