Hungry? Research shows that you’re unlikely to make a healthy snack choice. But you can use these 3 tips to make sure you pick healthy snacks for your weight loss goals.
Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply trying to eat well, you know it’s not always easy to make healthy choices. Researchers in the Netherlands confirmed that when given healthy and unhealthy options, you are more likely to choose the unhealthy snack.
So what can you do? Use our 3 tips below to control your environment and make it easy to choose the healthy snack.
Research Says You’ll Choose the Unhealthy Snack!
You may intend to make a smart choice. But researchers found that when given both healthy and unhealthy choices, people are unlikely to choose from the selection of healthy snacks that would be good for weight loss.
In a study of 585 office workers in the Netherlands, researchers asked participants which snack they would prefer: an apple, a banana, a candy bar or a molasses waffle. Slightly less than half (49 percent) said they would choose the healthy snack: a piece of fruit.
One week later, the participants were asked to actually choose (and eat) one of the snacks.
More than one quarter of those with originally healthy intentions switched and took an unhealthy snack instead. And over 90 percent of those with unhealthy intentions stayed with their originally unhealthy choice.
Of those that changed their minds, over three quarters of the office workers made the “wrong” choice by switching from healthy to unhealthy snacks!
How to Choose Healthy Snacks: Control Your Environment
The Dutch researchers showed that good intentions are not always enough to help us make the right choices. So what can you do?
The answer is to control your environment so that the healthy choices are easier to make. Or better yet, make sure you have only healthy choices and then you won’t be tempted!
These three weight loss tips will get you started.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare Healthy Snacks in Advance
When it comes to snacking, the most important weight loss tip is to keep health snacks available. You can’t eat healthy food if you don’t have any. And once you’re hungry it’s usually too late.
You need to plan ahead and make sure your healthy snacks are prepared and ready.
So plan a regular time once or twice a week when you prepare healthy snacks. Cut up fruits and vegetables, portion them out along with servings of lean proteins, and put them in storage containers of baggies so they are ready when you need them.
Healthy Snacks to Try
- apple slices and peanut butter
- berries or other fruit
- hard boiled eggs
- almonds or walnuts
2. Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby and Handy
Now that you have healthy snacks prepared, make sure you have them handy when you need them.
At home, keep them in a plastic bin in the refrigerator or a special place in the cupboard. At work, keep a supply in a drawer at your desk or claim a spot in the break room refrigerator. And if you are traveling or out and about for the day, make sure you take some with you.
At snack time, you want to be sure you have a healthy choice readily available. Otherwise that candy bar or bag of cookies may be hard to resist.
3. Throw Out All Your Unhealthy Snacks
The first two tips are about keeping healthy snacks nearby. When we’re talking about snacking, the third weight loss tip is to keep unhealthy snacks out of reach!
As the Dutch researchers discovered, When you’re hungry for a quick snack it can be very hard to avoid the fudge stripes, chocolate chip cookies, or truffles. But if you don’t have any in the house or office, it’s a lot easier!
So clean out your cupboards and the snack drawer in your office and throw out all the unhealthy snacks. And don’t replace them.
This advice can be tough if you have kids or if your partner or roommate wants to keep unhealthy food in the house. In this case, keep one single dedicated place for these unhealthy snacks, and try to avoid it. It will help if this is a cupboard or pantry shelf that you don’t you use too regularly.
In our house, we have a shelf in the “snack closet” dedicated to chips, breakfast bars, and cookies. It’s in a pantry closet where we keep extra food staples (like flour, rice, and cereal), so we don’t go in there every day. It’s alright for the kids to hit the snack closet at appropriate times, but it helps the grownups avoid unhealthy snacking.
Find a similar spot in your house. Or even better, ask your partner or roommate to keep their unhealthy treats in their own space — maybe a drawer or shelf in their room or home office.
Your Own Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss Ideas
Sometimes good intentions alone are not enough. Make it easier on yourself and follow these three tips to help you stick with healthy snacks and stay on track with your weight loss goals.
Do you have your own snacking weight loss tips? What snacks do you like best? How do you make sure you make the healthy choices? Leave a comment below and share your tips!
- “Making snack food choices: Are ‘bad intentions’ stronger than ‘good intentions?’”
- Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Web. 11 Sept 2008.
- “Discrepancy between snack choice intentions and behavior.”
- Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
- 40.5 (Sept-Oct 2008): 311-16.
- New York: Elsevier.
- Division of Human Nutrition. Wageningen University, The Netherlands.