Archive for the tag - snacking

Late Bedtimes and Less Sleep Lead to Weight Gain.

couch potato catYou’ve probably heard the age-old adage, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I’m not sure about the wealthy or wise part, but healthy – at least, according to a growing amount of research – has some truth.

Researchers from the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania published a study in the July issue of SLEEP; it’s the largest and most diverse healthy-sample study ever conducted in laboratory conditions. For the study, 225 healthy participants were recruited for up to 18 days in the laboratory. The participants were broken into two groups and either spent only 4 hours in bed for five consecutive nights or 10 hours in bed for five consecutive nights. Throughout the study, meals were served and food was readily available.

When researchers crunched the data, they discovered that the sleep-restrictive group ate a significantly larger amount of calories due to late-night calorie consumption. During their extra awake time, the participants ate… and ate. And ate some more. Moreover, the proportion of calories from fat was higher during late night snacking.

Though it’s totally possible and very healthy to snack on celery sticks or carrots, the data shows that we’re less likely to make those choices late at night. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s not when you eat, but what you’re eating – and how much of it – that counts most.

In other words, it’s always important to be mindful of your food choices, but this is especially true at night. Don’t fall for a case of the mindless munchies!

How to Snack Healthy.

Hey Davey,

I have a quick question for you: How do you stop yourself from snacking out of boredom or settling for unhealthy foods?

Do you have any tips for staying on the right track when there just aren’t the right foods around?

Love,
Emily

If you're bored, find a better way to pass the time. Like playing with your dog. And, studies have shown that petting a dog actually reduces blood pressure.

Hey Emily,

There’s nothing wrong with snacking in between meals when it’s to curb hunger. But it’s important to distinguish between true hunger and appetite. Hunger is the body’s need for food whereas appetite is more about psychological desires for food.

When you start to feel the munchies, experts recommend rating your hunger on a 10 point scale wherein 1 is insatiably hungry and 10 is overly full. If you’re feeling a 4 or higher, you can probably satisfy your urge by drinking a glass of water with a bit of juice for flavor. If you’re feeling a 3, maybe a healthy snack will help hold you over until your next meal.

If snacking is in order, here are a few tips to help you make healthier choices.

  1. Be proactive. Being proactive starts at the grocery store; buy healthy snack foods like fruits, veggies and hummus. Stock up on peanut and other nut butters that are satisfying and delicious. If you’re going to a friend’s house, bring a snack with you. Just throw an apple into your backpack or purse. By being proactive, you won’t have to be reactive.
  2. Purge… your kitchen cabinets. While buying healthy foods is crucial, it’s equally important to rid your pantry of unhealthy options like cookies, ice cream and potato chips. Box up all your unopened and unhealthy snack foods and donate them to a local food bank. If it doesn’t nourish you, don’t give it space in your home or your life.
  3. Think about how the snack will make you feel. When selecting a snack, take a moment or two to consider how you’ll feel in another hour. Will you be glad you ate it? How will you feel in another day? By asking yourself these simple questions, you can use your inner guidance to make smarter choices.
  4. Use portions. Overeating is overeating, even when it involves healthy snack foods. To prevent overeating, always portion your snack out into a small bowl or small plate. When we use bigger plates, we tend to be more generous in our portions (as the quantity of food can look smaller in proportion). Moreover, when you eat directly from the box or bag, it’s impossible to monitor your portions.
  5. Find a new hobby. Snacking isn’t a hobby like collecting coins or folding origami. The purpose of snacking isn’t for passing the time; it’s to fuel your body with the nourishment it needs between meals. Instead of dealing with boredom by eating food, find another pastime. Go for a walk. Take a jog. Build something. Or just distract yourself in another way, like playing with a pet or reading the latest post on DaveyWaveyFitness.com.

I hope these tips help you better understand hunger and the role snacking can play in a healthy and active lifestyle.

Love,
Davey Wavey

P.S. If anyone else has any tips, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Unhealthy Food More Appealing When Tired.

According to a new study, unhealthy foods like pizza, candy and soda are even more appealing to our brains when we’re tired.

Conducted by Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition, the study looked at brain activity in well-rested and then sleep-deprived individuals. When shown unhealthy food options, tired participants experienced increased activity in the brain’s reward centers.

A separate study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley concluded that sleep-deprivation leads to impaired activity in an area in the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the area of the brain that helps control behavior and process complex choices. When experiencing sleep deprivation, this area didn’t respond well – thereby making it easier for tired individuals to choose unhealthy foods.

The results aren’t surprising for two reasons. First, when we’re tired, we let our guard down. We’re not as vigilant in making decisions – and it’s easier to just “go for it.” Second, there’s probably an evolutionary advantage at play. When we’re tired, unhealthy (but calorie-dense) foods like soda and candy can give you a quick burst of energy and momentarily lift fatigue. Back when we lived in caves and fought for our survival, this could have been an evolutionary advantage.

The next time you’re tired and craving something unhealthy, remember this study and know what’s really happening. Grab a handful of unsalted nuts or slice up an apple… and then call it a night. Do your body a real favor and get some rest.

10 Tips to Overcome the Munchies.

Got the munchies? Distracting yourself is a great strategy to overcome cravings. And this picture is definitely a distraction...

Got the munchies? Having enough willpower to overcome your appetite for snack foods isn’t always easy.

Speaking of appetite, it’s important to differentiate true hunger from your appetite; they’re not one in the same. Hunger is your body’s need for food, while your appetite is really more about cravings. Since we’re talking about munchies, they often fall under the umbrella of appetite.

Here are a few tips to help you rein in your cravings.

  1. Keep tempting foods out of reach. Control your environment. If you do the shopping, don’t buy snack foods. If you don’t do the shopping, ensure that these foods are in cupboards and out of sight. Ask coworkers to keep candy in opaque containers. Simply seeing snack foods can fuel cravings.
  2. Identify food triggers. What causes you to snack? Is it boredom? Then do something. Is it emotional eating? Rather than just treating the symptoms, examine and treat the root cause.
  3. Drink green tea. Liquid can satisfy your oral fixation – and green tea has a zillion great benefits for your body. Since it’s hot (unlike cold tap water), you’ll have to take your time and sip it slowly. This will buy you the time to let your munchies pass.
  4. Don’t skip meals. Eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner will eliminate any actual hunger pains that your body might be feeling – and the subsequent snacking that may follow. It’s important to keep your body properly fueled with nourishing foods.
  5. Stock up on healthy snack foods. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Replace unhealthy snack foods with more nutritional options. Celery sticks and carrots can make for some satisfying snacking. Unsalted peanuts are another great choice.
  6. Don’t snack from the package. Instead of eating directly from the tap, put snack foods on dishes or in bowls. Rather than eating the entire package, you can better control your portion.
  7. Brush your teeth. Believe it or not, the minty freshness of a clean mouth can curb food cravings. Try it!
  8. Distract yourself. You may discover that your munchies will pass. Call a friend or walk the dog. Distracting yourself from the munchies is one of the best ways to overcome them.
  9. Ask your body what it really wants. Take a minute, look in the mirror and ask your body, “What do you really want right now?” It’s probably not an unhealthy snack.
  10. Read Davey Wavey Fitness. Instead of thinking about snack food, spend your time catching up to my blog. And for more support, sign up for daily text messages from Davey Wavey to help keep you on track.

What other tips or strategies do you have for overcoming the munchies? Let me know in the comments below.