How many times have you run out of the house without breakfast, only drinking coffee on your way to work, and then forget to eat until your stomach screams, "It's lunchtime!!" Then, when you sit down to eat lunch you eat two to three times as much as you wanted to eat, blowing your calorie budget and weight loss goals for the day.

If this has happened to you, you're not alone. The reason is simple: not eating every three to four hours causes fluctuations in your blood sugar that leads to overwhelming hunger and binge eating. The solution to this problem is simple as well: plan your day by bringing healthy snacks with you to avoid overeating at meals.

So, what's your definition of a snack? A cookie, a bag of chips, a frozen coffee drink packed with calories and fat or a nice fresh piece of fruit and a small handful of almonds? Many people think snacking is their nemesis when it comes to losing weight, but in fact, healthy, strategic snacking can be a very effective weight loss tool. You just have to make the right choices.

A healthy snack is one containing high fiber, complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Placing these healthy snacks in between meals will stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent overeating at the next meal. By reducing the calories eaten at meals, the total number of calories for the day also decreases, which helps with weight loss.

Smart choices include: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, non-fat dairy products, and whole grains. Calories count, so pay attention to the amount of calories in the snacks you eat. Generally you want to keep snacks between 100 and 150 calories.

Here are five examples of properly balanced snacks to try:

  • 1 small apple with ½ tbsp peanut butter
  • ½ whole wheat English muffin with 1 sliced piece of low fat cheese
  • 1 container of Greek yogurt with ¼ cup berries
  • 2 tbsp hummus with celery or carrot sticks
  • 1-2 tbsp dried fruit with 4-8 walnut halves

To find out more about scheduling an individual nutrition counseling session with an EJGH Registered Dietitian, call Outpatient Nutrition at: (504) 849-6801.