When we’re watching our calories is it better to eat three squares, or graze whenever hunger hits? Surprisingly, many weight loss experts say grazing is the way to go. Of course this kind of noshing comes with rules. Here they are:
BE DISCRIMINATING. You can’t just dig into whatever is available. Conventional chips, for example, are filled with empty calories and little nutrition.
COME PREPARED. Fill individual snack packs and carry them with you for when you’re at the office or running errands. Nuts, sliced raw vegetables, air popped corn, whole grain rice cakes, are all good choices.
OPT FOR SMALL MEALS. Rather than three regular-size meals in between grazing, consider eating a few mini meals throughout the day. To help keep portions within reason, use smaller plates and don’t go back for seconds. These small meals should supplement your grazing.
TREAT YOURSELF. Don’t deny yourself sweets completely. Instead, limit yourself to two a day and be aware of portion size. For example, if you’re craving the taste and texture of chocolate, opt for a bite-sized offering under 60 to 70 calories. Also, if you’re hungering for sweets there’s always fruit, especially berries. Choose these and you’ll get the added benefit of increased antioxidants.
KEEP TRACK. Use a notebook to write down what you’re consuming during the day. It’s important to set a calorie limit and keep a count of what you’ve eaten. Try to meet your pre-set goal each day. If you’re exceeding that number in your daily grazing, phase out more calorie-rich foods, such as nuts, and substitute nutrient-rich, but low-calorie options, like vegetables.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."