Developing mindful nutrition practices can be difficult. There's tons of temptation, lots of yummy foods that aren't so great for you and mindless habits that we get ourselves into.
Being mindful doesn't mean you have to give up things you enjoy. There are several simple ways to watch what you're eating in order to maintain the proper caloric and nutrient balance while still enjoying your snacks.
1. Set-up your servings: If you are a snack-er, it can be easy to eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting or dive into a container of hummus like it's a spoonful. Setting up your servings ahead of time can still give you the feeling of snacking, while watching your portion size. To do this, simply look at the nutrition label and measure out a serving into a small baggies or containers. When you're hungry or looking for something to eat, grab one small bag instead of the large one to curb your habit.
2. Buy foods with bigger serving sizes: If you've ever examined nutritional labels, it's likely you've been disappointed with a serving size here and there. Who eats just 5 chips? A snacking hack is to buy things that have larger serving sizes. For example, plain popcorn such as Skinny Pop or Angies Boom Chicka Pop have servings ranging from 3-5 cups of popcorn. That's an amount that won't leave you feeling underwhelmed. If you buy caramel corn however, you'll likely be disappointed with a half-cup serving. In general, plainer items such as whole-grain cereals, popcorn, some mini rice cakes or chips and pretzels have larger serving sizes than tortilla chips and sugar-sweetened munchies.
3. More fruits and vegetables is key: Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and vitamins which will help keep you fuller longer and overall maintain a healthy body. Pre-cut some fruits or vegetables and put them in baggies/containers so they are ready to grab when you need something to snack on. If plain isn't your thing, try baking your fruits or adding a low-calorie dip to help liven up things you find plain.
4. Use a plate or bowl: Always use a plate, bowl, container, etc. Try not to eat snacks directly out of packages as this often leads to mindless eating. Lay out a serving on a plate, just as you would a meal and when you're finished, you're finished. No more sticking your hand inside the bag.
5. Slightly increase the size of your three-big meals (or make sure you're eating them): Eating tiny portions at breakfast, lunch or dinner and skipping meals all together often leads to undesired snacking, which then produces less than ideal results. Beef up your main meals if they're leaving you hungry by adding some extra protein or healthy fat to keep you satiated and full longer. If you're full, you'll be less likely to pick on other things.
Next time you reach for your night snack or mid-morning pick me up, check and make sure you're eating mindfully before you dig in.