Between meetings, appointments, work deadlines, errands, family obligations, and workouts, our lives are so full of activities that we often fill our bellies with the quickest, easiest bites we can get our hands on. Whether your goal is to drop unwanted pounds or to simply maintain your current weight, it's in your best interest to pause before you start haphazardly noshing and ask yourself these four important questions.
Am I hungry? Seems like a silly question, because you're eating — so you must be hungry, right? Many times people reach for food out of boredom, convenience (the bag of chips was open), depression (chocolate to drown your breakup sorrows), happiness (to celebrate a promotion), or desire (who could pass up the amazing cookies your coworker brought in?). But if you recently ate, then you're probably not truly hungry. Make sure you're due for a snack or meal before picking up the fork.
Is this food filling holes in my diet? We must eat to live, and that means the food we gobble down should offer our bodies the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Your daily diet should also be balanced. If you ate a high-protein breakfast of eggs and Greek yogurt topped with nuts, then reach for something that offers your body something besides protein for that midmorning snack, such as fiber, potassium, or vitamin A. Think of each snack and meal as a piece of your daily diet puzzle, an opportunity to take in what your body is lacking.
Keep reading to find out the other two questions you should ask yourself before eating.
Is it the correct portion size? It's snack time, and you're sitting down to a banana, toast with peanut butter, a cheese stick, and crackers. Although healthy, that's way more calories than a typical snack should be. Depending on your weight and your weight-loss goals, keep your snacks to around 150 calories, breakfast between 300 and 500 calories, lunch between 400 and 600 calories, and dinner around 400 and 600 calories.
Are there alternatives to make this healthier? You could smear butter on a plain bagel, or you could spread almond butter on a piece of whole-grain bread. You many not always be able to choose the healthier alternative (and sometimes we don't want to when it comes to foods we really crave), but the majority of your meals and snacks should be as healthy as possible. Look for easy ways to cut down on calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugars.