Snacking – Good, Bad, or Ugly for Weight Management?
Written by Meredith Bonde, a Mayo School of Health Sciences dietetic intern.
Snacking can get a bad reputation, but can it be a helpful tool for weight loss? Perhaps.
Potential benefits of snacking
- May provide healthy fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals if selected intentionally
- May prevent you from getting overly hungry and reaching for less healthful choices or overeating later in the day.
Consider this: Pair a fiber with protein
High-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains fill you up for less calories. Protein-rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, beans, and legumes keep you feeling fuller, longer.
- No-sugar-added low-fat or Greek yogurt topped with berries
- Vegetables (carrots, bell pepper, celery, radish slices, snap peas, cauliflower or broccoli florets) or whole grain crackers dipped in hummus
- Apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter
- Fruit with a hard-boiled egg, cottage cheese, string cheese, or a small handful of nuts
- Steamed edamame (soybean) pods
- Air-popped popcorn with a glass of milk
- Make it visible – set a bowl of fruit out on your kitchen counter or desk.
- Take portable fruits like bananas, oranges, apples with you on-the-go.
- Cut fruits and vegetables ahead of time and keep them in the fridge for easy access.
- Buy pre-portioned servings of string cheese, apple sauce or fruit cups, or small containers of hummus, nuts, and crackers.
How and why we snack is just as important as what we snack on. Mindful eating can help with portion control and help us savor our food.
- Ask yourself – am I feeling physically hungry, or am I reaching for a snack because I am feeling stressed, bored, or another emotion?
- Limit distractions while eating, such as watching TV, looking at your smartphone, or working at your desk.
- Try limiting snacking to one location in your house, such as the kitchen table.
- Savor your food – notice the unique aroma, tastes, and textures of each bite.
- Slow down - it can take 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that you are full. Try taking smaller bites, chewing well, using smaller utensils, or putting your fork down between each bite, to help you eat just enough to satisfy your hunger.
- Balanced, planned, mindful snacking can be a helpful tool for weight loss, but it is not a requirement, nor a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
- Experiment and see what works best for you. Notice how different snack choices affect your hunger, cravings, mood, and eating pattern for the rest of the day.
- Take small steps – if you tend to snack on higher calorie, less healthful choices, try splitting that portion in half and adding a fruit or vegetable on the side. A balanced diet that still includes the foods we enjoy is important for sustainable weight loss.
Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Weight Management blog.
Hi @eirrol – I believe you are referencing the minestrone soup recipe? You could add in green beans, carrots, or leave them out altogether! I also wanted to point out our kidney-friendly recipes on the website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/kidney-renal-diet-recipes/rcs-20522796
I am wanting to sign up for the Mayo Clinic diet, but I am unsure about it. Are there actual meal plans. I am not good with making my own meal plans. I need either a book with a 4-6 week meal plan to follow or a nutritionist that is willing to help me develop a meal plan. Desperate to lose weight after chemo. Seems I have just been gaining weight since I finished. I eat fairly healthy.
Hi @beth123 , great question. Yes! There are actual meal plans. If you select the "simple" menu option, you get 12 weeks of menus (3 meals each day + snacks). You can also rotate through the various menu styles (vegetarian, Mediterranean).. so this would eventually add up to more than 40 weeks of meal plans.
Thank you. Just wanted to make sure it was worth the cost.
If you want to check some examples out, from the main page, go to How It Works > Sample Meal Plan. You can then download PDFs from the various menus!
Thanks. I love minestrone soup. The hardest thing for me with my damaged kidney and food limitations, has been to give up tomatoes. I tried substituting red bell peppers. I need vegetable protein but it seems when I use lentils my blood work shows a lot of purines, which is not good. I need to get enough calcium but am told to avoid dairy. I am maintaining good levels on most labs through deprivation. So many of the kidney recipes look yummy but have things I am told not to eat. Any thoughts on this ?
Hi @eirrol , this is not a platform where we can provide specific medical advice, so my best suggestion for you is to meet with a nephrology registered dietitian. This person could review your labs and determine what restrictions are necessary vs not. There are also non-dairy sources of calcium they could discuss with you. We always hope deprivation is a last resort.
Thanks. I do have a dietician and a wonderful kidney doctor. I understand and am not asking for medical advice. Your recipes look very good.😊