The Ultimate Guide To Snacking

The Ultimate Guide To Snacking April 20, 2023Leave a comment

“It’s not my main meals; it’s the snacking.”

“It’s not getting to the gym; it’s the snacking.”

“It’s not staying consistent; it’s the snacking.”


Those wonderfully piquant bites of joy that find themselves creeping into your mouth before you’ve even had a chance to realise what the hell is happening. Those enticing packs, tubs, bars, and wrappers that you just can’t seem to say ‘no’ to, nor keep at bay for longer than a few hours. Those devilish food items that cause more stress and anxiety than any other mealtime or eating behaviour.

Snacks are (probably) one of the biggest reasons why you can’t lose body fat.

So, why does the act of snacking cause so many problems?

Why do we struggle to keep a lid on those additional bites and mouthfuls between meals?

Can we ever conquer their charm and appeal? Can we ever consume a packet of crisps without guilt and shame? Can we ever devour a biscuit or two and not let it ruin our fat loss progress?

We’re about to find out. 

Welcome to the ultimate guide to snacking.

What Is Snacking?

Anything that passes your lips between regular meals that contains calories is coined a snack. 

Fruit is a snack. Your coffee with milk and sugar is a snack. A full-fat soft drink is a snack. And the packet of crisps, four biscuits, and glass of wine you devoured after dinner last night are certainly defined as snacks.

All the little bites, chews, nibbles, mouthfuls, and gulps you enjoy throughout the day encompass the act of snacking.

Further definitions have classified the process as:

While snacks are generally associated with ‘lower nutritional quality’, often replacing foods with greater nutritional content, this isn’t always the case. Some studies have shown no differences between frequent and non-frequent snackers with respect to micro and macronutrient intake [1], and the perceived ‘health’ of a snack will depend on the snacker’s motivation to snack and their own current health status.

Snacking isn’t always a dietary negative.

Sometimes snacks can be ‘healthy’; sometimes they can be ‘unhealthy’. Sometimes they’re consumed in the morning; sometimes, they’re eaten or drunk in the afternoon. Sometimes they’re consumed out of shame and guilt; sometimes, they’re used to keep hunger at bay.

Without a ubiquitous definition of a ‘snack’, therefore, it is almost impossible to determine whether eating a snack is always beneficial or detrimental to health.

Having said that, it’s often opined that snacks connote energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods (containing sugar, sodium, and/or saturated fat), such as cakes, cookies, chips, and sugar-sweetened beverages. 

These are the types of foods – and the type of snacking – that often cause people the most problems. And, when it comes to fat loss, is probably what we should look to minimise. 

Why Are Snacks So Troublesome?

Individuals struggling to lose weight and keep it off have spent years adhering to (or at least trying to) rigid dieting behaviours and, subsequently, have repeatedly damaged their relationship with food. 

They no longer realise when they’re hungry, appreciate when they’re full, when they can say ‘no’, and when they’re allowed to consume something without becoming embroiled in those destructive feelings of guilt.

They turn to snacks in an attempt to mask the problems they’ve created with food and drink over the years.

Given our body weight and body fat percentage are directly tied to the number of calories we consume, it’s clear that the number of ‘ingestive events’ (i.e., moments we snack) and the energy consumed per ingestive event will influence our ability to lose weight [2]. 

Additional – and often needless – snacking, ostensibly, leads to greater fat gain.

The National Food Consumption Surveys in 1977 and 2007, surveying 15,000 households, concluded that increased snacking has contributed more to the obesity epidemic than increased portion sizes [3]. And studies comparing identical twins have shown that if the siblings had differing weights, the one who had a higher frequency of snacking weighed more [4]. 

It’s been found that people who consistently snack and gain weight [5]:

-> Snack when they have the urge to snack

-> Snack on sweet and/or salty foods

-> And eat normal-sized meals, even after snacking

It’s clear that snacks cause issues.

As we’ve established, not only are snacks typically lower in ‘quality’, but they are often consumed even when individuals aren’t necessarily hungry [6]. 

In addition, eating more frequently hasn’t been shown to necessarily increase fullness. One study showed that eating five or six times per day didn’t necessarily increase satiation any more than eating three times per day [7]. It’s why you keep going back to the cupboards.

Too much snacking can, therefore, reduce hunger at mealtimes or cause an individual to skip a meal entirely, increasing the risk of losing out on essential nutrients and creating disordered eating patterns.

Not only is it clear that snacks can be troublesome regarding calorie intake, hunger and fullness cues – and a poor relationship with food – but we often know they’re to our detriment as well. We know we shouldn’t consume the sweets during the afternoon, and we know we shouldn’t seek out the ice cream after dinner.

So why do we engage in these activities?

Why Do We Snack?


Nothing on Netflix? TikTok churning out the same dopamine-fuelled mind-numbing videos? Nobody’s DMs to slide into?

Ah, you’ll eat something; that will keep the mind busy and the hands occupied.

You’re bored.

Boredom is defined as a distinct emotional state resulting from a mismatch between one’s goals and current state of affairs. 

Not only have some studies shown that 66% of those endorsing a recent binge eating episode describe ‘boredom’ as a key trigger, but that feeling of tedium is associated with increased snack and sweet food consumption.

One research team assessed the impact of different types of TV programs (‘boring’ or ‘engaging’) on food intake in normal-weight, college-aged, female participants [8]. After a four-hour fast, participants had free access to two snacks – chocolate and grapes – while watching TV or reading for 30 minutes. 

Participants consumed significantly more snacks when reading and watching the ‘boring’ TV programme compared with the ‘engaging’ TV condition. 

While, interestingly, most of the snacks eaten were fruit, boredom seemed to contribute to the decision to snack the most. 

Additionally, boredom has been found to produce ‘discomfort’ and occurs with negative rather than positive emotions. When there’s nothing ‘meaningful’ to do (you know, like scrolling through Instagram), there is a greater opportunity for self-reflection. 

As being left with our thoughts can be a painful experience, the easiest thing to do is find something to replace that opportunity. 

What’s that easy thing to do? Snack.

Boredom is, therefore, an easy opportunity to seek out food to minimise those uncomfortable emotions and reduce that disparity between what we’re currently doing and what we want to be doing. 


Snacking isn’t so much a desired behaviour but more so the act of following a process of behaviour automation.

We’re not necessarily hungry after dinner, for example, but because we repeatedly encounter the same situation and the same rewards every night, we become accustomed to searching the cupboards an hour after finishing eating. 

We always snack because it’s what we always do. This is simply down to habit.

Building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.

An initial ‘cue’ (e.g., sitting on the sofa) will trigger your brain to initiate a behaviour. It is essentially a piece of information your brain constantly scans for that will predict a ‘reward’. 

Because the cue is the first indication that we’re close to a reward, it naturally leads to a craving.

‘Cravings’ (e.g., wanting a piece of chocolate) are the second part of the habit cycle, and are the motivational force behind every behaviour. They are linked to a desire to change your internal state, whether enjoying a piece of chocolate or relieving those feelings of boredom.

The third step is the ‘response’. The response is the actual habit you perform, which can take the form of a thought or an action (e.g., grabbing a chocolate bar). 

Whether a response occurs also depends on how motivated you are and how much friction is associated with the behaviour.

Finally, the response delivers a ‘reward’. Rewards are the end goal of every habit, and in the case of snacking, means we get to enjoy the satisfaction of that piece of chocolate. We chase rewards because they satisfy us and teach us which actions are worth remembering in the future (e.g., snacking again because that chocolate tasted so damn good).

When we eat something mid-morning, when we consume food during that 3 pm slump, and when we find ourselves devouring a packet of biscuits after dinner, it’s down to habit.

The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving and, ultimately, becomes associated with the cue. We do the same thing the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.


Watching TV, scrolling through Twitter, or even reading, can act as a distraction that impairs memory formation of the food we’ve consumed. 

This, subsequently, reduces our expectation of feeling full, leading to greater snacking.

One study showed that participants who were told to recall what they had for lunch reduced their total consumption of cookies by about 45% (about four cookies), compared with those who simply wrote down ‘general’ thoughts and feelings rather than food memories [9].

And other studies have shown that eating lunch while watching TV or playing video games tends to increase the number of snacks people eat later [10].

It’s why failing to remember what we eat will not only lead to overeating during the meal, but more over the next few hours as well. 

Without a reminder of what we’ve eaten – through physiological and psychological processes – we have little way of regulating our future food consumption.

Location And External Influences

Where we find ourselves throughout the day can also have a telling impact on the amount we snack and what we snack on. 

We’re often controlled by our environment and societal norms more than reasoned judgement. 

It’s why we’re more likely to snack when there are doughnuts laid out in the office kitchen, or more inclined to open the box of chocolates if they’re sitting on the coffee table while watching TV. 

Additionally, studies on children have shown that snacks eaten outside the house tend to be larger than snacks eaten at home, and those foods consumed in other places than at home tend to contain more fat, less fibre, and fewer micronutrients [11].

Again, this is not so much an individual’s ability to distinguish whether they truly want to eat, but the situation and environment they find themselves in and its powerful arm of influence. It’s no coincidence that the variety of snacks we now have on offer also contributes to overeating tendencies. 

It’s also why snacking can be influenced by social culture, food culture, and socioeconomic status.

Who we spend time with, the traditions these groups have, and the social events we engage in will all regulate snack consumption. 


Emotions are essential to life. They motivate us, help us understand ourselves and others, and aid the decision-making process. It’s impossible to avoid them. 

Unfortunately, negative emotions frequently get the better of us. It’s why we devour a whole cheesecake when angry or turn to alcohol when feeling sad or stressed. 

Negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness have been associated with increased impulsive eating and the consumption of ‘unhealthy’ foods, specifically by snacking [12].

Turning to food is a coping mechanism for those uncomfortable emotions. 

The problem is, food seldom fulfils those emotional or mental needs. Not only do we assume we’re hungry and are unable to discern what emotions we’re actually feeling, but working our way through the snack cupboard leads to the discomfort of overeating and those original emotions. 

If we’ve continually learned to react in a ‘solution-based’ manner to emotions (i.e., not allowing time and space to feel something first), it sends the message that feelings are there to be solved, not felt. And the easiest way to solve an emotion is through food.

Unfortunately, if the emotion hasn’t had time to be recognised, sat with, and discharged, you likely haven’t solved the problem. 

If you’re feeling sad but tell yourself what’s the point in feeling sad and turn to food, does that remove the sadness or ensure you now feel more frustrated for feeling upset – and for eating?

Suppressing those feelings leads to a lack of control. And the cycle quickly starts again.

How To Minimise Unnecessary Snacking

Sort Your Main Meals Out

The biggest problem people have with snacking is that often snacking isn’t the issue. It’s what they consume around their snacks that lead to continual overeating. 

When people consume low-volume, low-protein, highly-palatable main meals, they don’t feel as satiated, leading to them searching for something to fill them up between meals. It’s why toast and cereal for breakfast and a sandwich and packet of crisps for lunch rarely help individuals through to their next meal; they must compensate for that lack of nutrition by continually eating. 

Of course, the snacks they then choose often fail to fill them up, leading to one big eating session over the day. It’s one big vicious cycle of eating to feel full but never quite accomplishing that sensation.

Instead of trying to fix your snacking by working on your snacking, fix your snacking by working on yourmain meals.  

Here are your quick-fire tips for sorting your main meals out:

-> Prioritise a protein source at every meal (protein is, generally, more satiating than the other macronutrients)

-> Fill the rest of your plate up with vegetables and then a carbohydrate source

-> Eat slowly and put your knife and fork down between bites (this leaves you feeling fuller quicker and then for longer)

-> Do something engaging straight after eating

Learning how to plate a balanced, satiating meal will actually help curb your snacking more than focusing on the snacking action itself.

Differentiate Between Hunger & Stress, Procrastination, And Tiredness

People don’t know when they’re hungry. 

They’ve engaged in other activities to mask that feeling for so long, they’re often unaware of what true hunger feels like. Their first port of call is to eat when stressed, tired, or they want to procrastinate, so they don’t know how to sit with – or react to – perceived feelings of physical emptiness. 

Running through a series of questions to ascertain whether its hunger or simply a craving surfacing will enable you to work out what action is required. If it’s hunger, you can eat; if it’s a craving, you can implement other strategies to let this eventually dissipate. 

-> Do I feel a hollow feeling in my stomach?

-> Am I hungry for a balanced meal?

-> Has my hunger built up over time?

-> Will eating this make me feel better or worse?

Hunger is generally ‘body-driven’ compared to ‘head-driven’.

A rumbling stomach, poor concentration, or feeling nauseous are all indicators you’re hungry, compared to a craving which is generally motivated by thoughts, feelings, and external factors (e.g., the sight or smell of food).

If you desire a range of foods rather than a specific food or flavour/texture, you’re probably hungry. If not, you’re only going to make yourself feel worse in the long run by eating. 

That hunger should have built up over time. If it’s only an hour or two since you’ve eaten, it’s probably not hunger (unless you had that sandwich and crisps for lunch). If your hunger for a balanced meal (protein, vegetables, etc.) rather than a specific item (chocolate, crisps) has intensified over time, you’ll likely curb those sensations by eating. 

People often confuse other physical sensations for hunger, such as tiredness or thirst, and so often feel worse when eating. They haven’t addressed the root of the problem. 

Taking the time to run through those questions – and taking a ‘Stop And Think’ approach – will break that quick-fire action of eating when addressing the problem of stress, procrastination, or tiredness is the answer. 

Start Facing Your Feelings

Despite our emotions often leading us down the path of poor eating decisions, we can take back that control. 

By developing the skill of emotional regulation – your ability to effectively manage and respond to a certain emotional experience – you can align your actions with your long-term goals.

It’s generally assumed that emotions are constructed events rather than fixed entities. 

Past experiences are stored as concepts in the brain, meaning that these are predictions, rather than facts, about what is likely to occur next. Just because you’re ‘angry’ doesn’t mean you’re ‘angry’ or know what will reduce that supposed anger.

The more precise our emotional concepts, the more context-specific predictions we can create. To improve emotional regulation, we need to practice identifying how we are actually feeling.

-> Identify And Label Emotions

Research suggests that increasing our emotional knowledge can help us differentiate between negative emotions, allowing us to respond more effectively.

By spending time identifying, labelling, and interpreting emotions, you can reduce stressful reactions to situations and make better decisions. 

Spend time figuring out what emotion you’re feeling, the intensity of that emotion, any beliefs or assumptions you have around that emotion, the bodily sensations you’re feeling, and what potential skills you could use to manage that feeling differently. 

Repeatedly tuning in to emotional experiences may facilitate increases in emotional granularity – the ability to differentiate between the specificity of your emotions. 

-> Practice Mindfulness

By observing your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in a non-judgemental manner, you’re more likely to reduce the act of snacking. 

Mindfulness-based interventions have been found to improve that emotional granularity [13], and recognising when thoughts are not necessarily accurate or true, allows individuals to align decisions with long-term goals. 

Whether guided meditations, filling out a mindfulness-specific worksheet, or simply employing a ‘slower’ approach to decision-making, this mindfulness will allow you to pay attention to your feelings without necessarily trying to change them by eating. 

-> Practice Defusion

It has been shown repeatedly that, when dieters try to suppress their thoughts, they experience a significant thought rebound. 

When the dieters in one study were told to just think about their intention to eat chocolate, however, they ate twice as fewer chocolates as when they tried not to think about chocolate before a taste test [14]. 

They were able to uncouple the act of eating chocolate from their desire to do so.

By allowing your mind to identify any negative thoughts, you can reframe them in a positive way and choose alternative behaviours. 

This is what’s known as defusion [15].

Allowing yourself to feel a desire enables you to then act independently of the experience. 

When you’re ‘fused’ with your thoughts and feelings, you automatically act on them (for example, craving, then immediately also devouring the chocolate). When you’re ‘defused’ from your thoughts and feelings, you can act independently from them (craving but not devouring the chocolate). 

Defusion is simply separating yourself – and your actions – from your thoughts. 

Essentially, facing your feelings, learning about them, and regulating them effectively will minimise your chances of eating unnecessarily. 

Start Looking After Yourself

If reaching for food is your only coping strategy when you feel sad, frustrated, tired, etc., you’re going to run into snacking problems. 

Trying to ‘fix feelings’ with food is a recipe for disaster – which is why we need healthy coping strategies. 

It’s important you do something good for yourself – and your emotional regulation – while you’re experiencing difficult emotions. 

It’s not necessarily about suppressing these emotions – or even distracting yourself – it’s about doing something that is beneficial and fits your values while you’re feeling your feelings. 

This can arrive in the form of self-care:

There’s no right or wrong type of self-care you can utilise; you just need to ensure you use something at the right time

It’s taking a walk instead of devouring the popcorn in front of the TV because you’re sad; it’s having a bath instead of drinking a glass of wine because you’re stressed; it’s playing a board game with your family instead of having fourteen biscuits because you’re feeling lonely.

It may feel like these skills don’t ‘fix’ your cravings or feelings, but it’s important to remember they’re not supposed to. 

Self-care doesn’t numb feelings the way food does, but they’re an opportunity for you to do something for yourself and minimise the chances of reaching for calories instead.

Surf The Urge

We don’t have to let the steady stream of internal statements and commands running through our heads define us. 

Most of us are living in a state of cognitive fusion – meaning, we buy into what our thoughts tell us and permit them to direct our actions. 

We can change this, however. Just like a surfer rides the waves in the ocean, we’re similarly able to ‘surf’ the urges we experience. 

We’re not looking to speed up, slow down, carve the water, or repair those compulsions, but simply allow a craving to rise, crest, and fall. We’re willing to accept a natural feeling and withstand its power without enduring the desire to fight or act upon it. 

This technique, labelled ‘Surfing The Urge’, is a valuable tool in practicing acceptance of our thoughts and cravings and still staying on track when faced with the desire to snack [16].

By surfing the urge when we encounter a temptation, we can accept the feeling and stay in control of our subsequent behaviours. 

In acknowledging and observing the thoughts we have (‘I’m currently having the urge for a packet of crisps’) and being open to it (‘It’s perfectly acceptable to experience this urge’), we’re able to let these impulses appear and eventually fade away (‘I no longer have a craving for that packet of crisps’).

Accepting the thoughts we can’t control paradoxically brings control back to ourselves. We’re no longer left trying to fight these urges – and subsequently failing – but able to differentiate between what we need to act upon and what we don’t. 

This act of mindfulness has consistently been found to help change our self-destructive behaviours.

When you find yourself amid an internal battle with your mind, don’t try to suppress it; think about scoring the intensity of the craving on a scale of 1-10 instead (‘My desire for those crisps is now a raging 9’). 

Don’t feel the need to censor or reduce the urge; simply notice the thought and how it’s affecting your body.

You’ll soon see the craving start to dissipate (‘My desire for those salty snacks is now a 4’). Staying with your physical sensations, such as your breathing and desires, will allow the urge to rise, crest, and fall (‘What crisps?’).

Avoid Good/Bad, Dichotomous Thinking 

Kale, spinach, and kumquats are ‘good’, and cakes, chocolates, and crisps are ‘bad’, right?

Society will corner certain foods into being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, providing them with a moral backstory and assigning consequences to the consumption of each item. People are led to believe that devouring the cakes, chocolates, and crisps means you’re a ‘bad’ person – leading to guilt and shame – and will instantly lead to that number on the scales hitting the roof.

This is a flawed outlook on food and leads to the overconsumption of these items. 

Numerous studies have found that such inflexible dieting methods – that good/bad, dichotomous mentality – predict increased bodyweight and calorie intake, along with a loss of control, in both men and women [17].

Viewing food items as ‘off limits’ or ‘forbidden’, heightens their appeal. 

If you’re not allowed the foods you enjoy, it will only increase the chances of reaching for the cupboards.

In creating arbitrary rules around food (e.g., ‘I can’t have this because it’s bad for me’), we are moralising about food choices. The moment we do, we risk shame, alienation and damage surrounding choices, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with certain foods.

When we realise that no food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – just simply food – we remove that instant desire for something and provide ourselves with permission to consume it. It no longer becomes sought after because you realise you are allowed to consume it.

Change Your Environment

All your choices surrounding food and exercise are more congruent with external surroundings and physical cues than your own, precisely crafted judgements and reasoning. 

We bow to the power of our environment. 

It’s no coincidence that, when high-calorie desserts are within easy reach, people succumb to their accessibility [18].

Redesigning your surroundings, however, makes the temptation to snack a lot more straightforward. 

The absence of old cues provides a window of opportunity to make alternative decisions and implement fresh intentions.

If you find yourself reaching for ice cream after dinner, don’t buy the ice cream to keep in the house. If you find yourself rummaging through your desk at work, don’t keep snacks in your drawers. If you always stop off at the corner shop on the way home from work, take a different route home. 

While focusing on eating skills, emotional regulation, and differentiating between true hunger and boredom/habit should always come first, changing your environment is an easy ‘win’ that will help inhibit the desire to eat between meals. 

As the saying goes, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. 

How to snack the right way

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to snacking. You can snack successfully. 

Not only is snacking the right way going to provide you with added energy throughout the day, but can potentially curb appetite (at the right times), help create a better relationship with food, and provide you with an additional source of nutrients when utilised effectively.

And, after all, if eating at that particular moment is going to bring you joy and satisfaction – having worked through the potential pitfalls listed above – there’s no reason not to enjoy those enticing packs, tubs, bars, and wrappers guilt-free. 

Have The Damn Chocolate

It’s no secret that diet culture is based on a lifetime of restriction and guilt surrounding food. It’s how we’ve learned to associate certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and why we tend to overeat unnecessarily. 

When it comes to snacking, we feel shame around consuming chocolate and crisps, and do everything in our power to avoid these items. Of course, white-knuckling your way through life rarely works and creates more problems than solutions. 

Instead, it’s time to have the damn chocolate. 

Not only will this bring you more satisfaction in the long run, but it will enable you to improve those hunger cues, when you’re full and eating in response to emotions. 

Instead of always searching for the ‘low-calorie’ or the ‘high-protein’ option – which is probably only going to lead to you consuming the desired item anyway – it’s time to select what you want (i.e., the chocolate, crisps, or ice cream), eat mindfully, slowly, without distraction, and to savour the opportunity and privilege you get to eat.

This removes that negative association with certain foods, eliminates the temptation to overindulge because you’re scared you won’t get the chance to consume them again, and will, ultimately, bring true fulfilment and pleasure. 

Munching on a rice cake when you really want a hot cross bun or seeking out the high-protein cereal when you really want a bowl of Coco Pops isn’t a long-term solution. 

Of course, the guidelines listed above still apply – we can’t always have the Coco Pops – but giving yourself permission to do so removes that desire to snack unnecessarily. 

Frame It As A Meal

One study divided participants into four groups; two groups were given a 516-calorie portion of pasta and were told it was a ‘snack’; the other two were told their same-sized portion was a ‘meal’ [19]. 

Those who were told it was a snack ate significantly more in a follow-up taste test of M&M’s than those who were told it was a meal. 

Essentially, we’ll tend to eat more later if we believe we’ve had a snack rather than a meal. 

Similarly, other studies have shown that individuals report feeling less satiated by a ‘snack’ than a ‘meal’, even when the two eating occasions contain the same number of calories, and, additionally, are more likely to consume more later after snacking than consuming a meal [20].

Whenever you eat outside of a ‘main’ meal, still frame the eating moment as a meal rather than a snack. 

Psychologically you’ll feel fuller and less inclined to eat more afterwards. Yes, even if it’s just a packet of crisps. 

Eat Mindfully

Everyone’s attention spans these days suck. We’re scrolling through our phones while watching TV or seeking something to eat when bored. 

While this is entirely normal, it becomes a problem when eating. 

Instead, it’s better to be fully engaged and take breaks than simply paying half attention and not taking any breaks. 

While snacking, it’s time to engage in ‘five senses experiencing’. 

What can you see, what can you smell, what can you touch, what can you hear, and what can you taste?

Doing something engaging and fully participating in it is a simple and effective way to stay focused on the task at hand, and not let your mind wander. 

In doing so, you’ll be less inclined to overeat, enjoy your snack/meal more, and notice when you when you’re eating just for the sake of it, not necessarily because you’re looking for something to do. 

Engage with your five senses not to suppress or distract yourself from cravings but simply to be aware of your actions. 

Start picking out the flavours in your meal, notice the difference between protein and carbs/fats, and take your time recognising all the senses available around you. 

This will quickly impact how full you feel between main meals. 

Aim For High-Protein, High-Volume

Most people want something ‘quick and easy’ when snacking. While this has its benefits, these low-satiating and low-volume items rarely leave individuals feeling full and satisfied. 

Instead, always aim for something high-protein and high-volume. 

Not only has protein found to be more satiating than carbohydrates and fats, but aids the building and preservation of muscle mass, two important factors relating to long-lasting changes in body composition. 

Similarly, in allowing yourself to eat more food, you’re going to feel more satisfied psychologically.

Studies have shown that our brains don’t react to actual calorie intake but, instead, to what it believes is being consumed. 

One study had participants on 313 calories per day and another group on 2294, and there was found to be no difference in mood, sleep quality, and performance between the two groups [21]. 

Participants couldn’t even tell which calorie group they were in. 

When snacking, aim for high-volume, nutrient-dense foods, not just the easy and convenient items. 

Always Wait 10 Minutes

As soon as we experience a craving, our first instinct is to eat immediately.

In always waiting ten minutes before consuming something, you break the instant, mindless snacking pattern. 

Wanting something and then instantly eating it is a habit that ensures we eat mechanically, with little thought, processing, enjoyment and choice. 

If, after ten minutes, you decide you still want to snack, you can snack. 

You, however, have had time to think, check in with your body, and run through all possible alternatives. 

This allows you to snack appropriately, at the right times, and for the right reasons. 

This Article Was Too Long And I Didn’t Read It; Can You Summarise It Please?

-> Snacks – any food/drink items that pass your lips between regular meals that contains calories – are (probably) one of the biggest reasons why you can’t lose body fat.

-> People turn to snacks in an attempt to mask the problems they’ve created with food and drink over the years. They create problems in terms of calorie intake, hunger and fullness cues – and a poor relationship with food – and people often know they’re to their detriment as well. 

-> Individuals will snack because they’re bored, it’s habit, they’re distracted, they’re trying to solve emotions, the location they find themselves in, and other external influences.

-> To minimise unnecessary snacking, it’s time to focus on creating better main meals, learning to differentiate between hunger and stress, procrastination, and tiredness, engaging in acts of self-care, surfing the urge, facing your feelings, avoiding good/bad, dichotomous thinking, and changing your environment

-> To snack the right way, it’s important to eat the foods you want to eat, frame snacks as meal, eat mindfully, prioritise high-protein, high-volume foods, and always wait ten minutes before eating something.


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2. Mattes, R. (2014). Energy intake and obesity: Ingestive frequency outweighs portion size. Physiology & Behavior, 134, 110-118. 

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4. Keski-Rahkonen, A., Bulik, C.M., Pietilainen, K.H., Rose. R.J., Kaprio, J. & Rissanen, A. (2007). Eating styles, overweight and obesity in young adult twins. European journal of clinical nutrition, 61(7), 822. 

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