For most people reckless snacking derails their healthy diet, leaving them frustrated and overweight.
Do you eat a healthy lunch only to succumb to the vending machine an hour later?
I've got good news for you, if you do.
With just a few adjustments to your diet, you can effortlessly kick your snacking habit to the curb.
You see, the urge to snack happens when your blood sugar levels drop—giving your body the message that you need more fuel. (Enter the vending machine.) This happens after eating meals that are low in fiber, low in calories, and high in sugar.
Eat meals that are filled with fiber and you'll stabilize your blood sugar levels, and feel full longer.
The Case for High Fiber
Researchers have done their homework on fiber, and the results spell easy weight loss for all who listen. By consuming an extra 14 grams of fiber each day you can cut your calorie intake by a full 10 percent.
People who consume more fiber (as low as 20 grams per day) weigh an average of 8 pounds lighter than people who consume low fiber (closer to 10 grams per day).
There are two main reasons that high fiber leads to weight loss:
1. Fiber fills you up and stabilizes blood sugar for hours. This tames your appetite and protects you from needless snacking.
2. Foods that are high in fiber aren't as calorie dense. When you fill up on high fiber foods you eat just as much but take in fewer calories.
Breaking it Down
It's always easier to understand a concept like this when real life examples are given. So here's a review of a low fiber, high sugar diet that ‘Jane' was eating, and then we'll see the small changes made to increase her fiber content and stabilize blood sugar.
> Breakfast: Jane would typically eat a packet of instant oatmeal made with low fat milk and topped with banana and brown sugar. On the way to work she would also grab a mocha or latte.
> Snack: Without fail by 10am Jane's stomach would growl, sending her to the vending machine. She would end up with a small bag of chips, crackers or candy to hold her over until lunch.
> Lunch: By noon Jane was starving again, and would inhale her packed lunch of a medium sized bagel with low fat cream cheese and deli slices, and a small container of yogurt.
> Snack: At 3pm Jane's appetite would soar and she would scavenge the office for a small snack to hold her over until dinner. She usually found part of a leftover pastry or cookies, and if all else failed she would once again turn to the vending machine.
> Dinner: Most nights Jane would make a dinner of chicken breast, instant rice and a small salad, some nights she would substitute pasta for the rice.
> Snack: Every night at 10pm Jane would find herself back in the kitchen in search of something sweet. Most often she would have a bowl of low fat ice cream or sorbet before going to bed.
Did you notice a trend in Jane's diet? While she kept her selections fairly low in fat, she hardly ate any fiber which left her battling hunger all day. Her meals were also very high in sugar, which caused her blood sugar levels to jump up and plunge down throughout the day.
Here's the revised version of Jane's meals:
> Breakfast: Instead of the instant oatmeal Jane switched to using old fashion (intact) oats. She then topped it with broken walnut pieces and banana. Instead of drinking a high-sugar mocha or latte, she started drinking hot tea.
> Snack: Much to her surprise, 10am came and went without so much as a hunger pain. Jane kept her focus and worked through till lunch.
> Lunch: For lunch Jane had a cup of lentil soup, a slice of rye bread and a cup of steamed veggies.
> Snack: 3pm came and went, and again Jane didn't feel the need snack. On her way home she ate a small handful of almonds.
> Dinner: This meal didn't change much for Jane. Instead of instant rice she made brown or wild rice, and instead of white pasta she made whole wheat. She also added a vegetable dish to dinner, in addition to the salad.
> Snack: Most nights Jane skips her late night snack since she just doesn't feel hungry. On those nights that she does want a sweet treat she enjoys sliced fruit.
That didn't look hard, did it?
As you probably noticed, Jane's daily calories dropped dramatically after adding fiber to each meal. Also her percentage of calories from fat also dropped, since her snack foods were high in fat.
This means that Jane is effortlessly losing weight simply by consuming more fiber.
You can follow Jane's lead by evolving your diet to include higher levels of fiber.