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Ask Bob Greene's Team: How Should I Handle a Midmorning Snack Attack?
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Q: How should I handle a midmorning snack attack?
Tracy Gensler, MS, RD, Best Life nutritionist, told us that the best offense is a good defense. We also got her in-the-moment advice for the next time you're going mano-a-mano with the vending machine. After the jump, get Gensler's six-step snack plan.
1. Fortify yourself with a nutritious breakfast.
If you find that you're ravenous every day at 11:30 a.m., ask yourself if you're getting enough calories, good fats, protein and carbs in the morning. Trying to get away with the minimum at breakfast can affect how you feel all day. To get started, add some fruit and whole-grain cereal to your standard smoothie, or try one of these quickie balanced breakfasts.
2. Take the 60-second hunger test.
Even if you're starving—especially if you're starving—you should take a minute to use Bob Greene's 10-point Hunger Scale, where 10 is stuffed and 1 is weak and woozy. If you fall within the range of 1-3, where you're physically uncomfortable and hear your stomach rumbling, then you should definitely have a snack. I often hear about people trying to see how far they can go between meals, but putting off eating makes you more likely to binge or make bad choices later. Plus, hunger is distracting, and you want to be able to concentrate on your work. If you're just beginning to feel the signs of hunger--say, you're at a 4---or if you've got a lunch meeting in thirty minutes, consider having a cup of coffee or tea, as caffeine can forestall hunger.
3. Choose your weapons wisely.
Most vending machines offer bags of trail mix, which are usually your best emergency option: they're pre-packaged for portion control, and they contain protein-filled nuts as well as energy-boosting dried fruit. Sometimes all we need is a few bites of something to hold us over, so if you're not ravenous, consider eating half of your snack now and half after lunch.
4. Stock your arsenal.
A snack is not a cheat or even a treat. To me, it's another opportunity to get the nutrition we require for the day. You can't always rely on vending machines to have the perfect option, so think of snacks as mini meal occasions and plan ahead. One of my favorite morning snacks is a packet of oatmeal. That alone can tide you over, but it's even better if you keep some nuts and dried fruit on hand to mix in. If you think ahead to create a balanced snack with calcium, fiber, unsaturated fat, and some carbs, you will be less likely to munch on empty calories, like baked potato chips. Here some other snack strategies.
5. Readjust your afternoon plans.
If you're satisfied after your snack, you may want to push your lunch break ahead until you're hungry again. But if you're ready to eat again by the time lunch rolls around, go ahead and enjoy. Don't punish yourself for having a healthy snack.
6. Ration your stash.
When you're focused on work, it can be easy to mindlessly graze your way through your snack drawer. To prevent this, I like pre-portioned bags of almonds or trail mix. In addition, some non-perishable snacks that are particularly ill-suited for nibbling are high-fiber cereal--a ¾ cup is just better with milk—and dried fruit that leaves your fingers sticky and stained.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.