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Five Ways to Cut Back on Unhealthy Snacks


People don't eat regular meals as much as they'd like to think. When researchers had subjects track their food and drink with smartphones, they discovered most were eating constantly for about 15 hours a day.

Snacking continuously has become the new normal. However, constantly eating low quality, calorie-dense foods is contributing to America's obesity epidemic. Here are some tips you can use to reign in some of the worst snacking tendencies.

Step One: Kill the temptation by taking a jog. Just 15 minutes on a treadmill can decrease your desire for sweet and high-calorie snacks by 23%. If you don't have a treadmill handy, a walk can provide similar results. Office workers can fight the urge by standing up from your desk and walking in place.

Step Two: Fight cravings by thinking of snacks in a positive way. Researchers at Arizona State University had subjects watch one of two videos. One featured a negative message about sugary snacks and the other featured a positive message. Dieters who saw the negative message ate 39% more cookies than people who saw the positive message.

The negative messages backfired. Instead of focusing on the bad things about junk food snacks, think about the positive things you get from healthy food. They provide more vitamins and minerals. They taste better, and the taste hangs around longer. They fill you up quicker with less calories. Look at the pros of choosing healthy instead of the cons of choosing junk.

Step Three: Eat an apple before you go to the supermarket. It's common knowledge that you should eat something before buying food. It helps reduce some of the impulsive bad decisions you make while shopping hungry. But what you eat before that trip matters.

Cornell researchers gave 120 subjects either a cookie, an apple or nothing before grocery shopping. Then they tracked what they bought. The apple eaters bought 28% more fruits and vegetables than the cookie eaters, and 25% more fruits and vegetables than the people who had no snack. To put you in the proper frame of mind for buying healthy foods, eat an apple before.

Step Four: Quit buying packaged “healthy” bars or snacks. When volunteers ate food that was labeled “healthy”, they reported feeling less full than if they ate the EXACT SAME food labeled as a “candy bar.” They believed the food labeled healthy wouldn't be as filling, so they compensated by eating more. If you're hungry, eat a 200 or 300 calorie meal and kill the cravings.

Step Five: Rediscover delicious fresh fruit. Companies that make candy have figured out ways to pack huge amounts of flavor into each bite. The taste quickly disappears, so you eat more to keep that flavor on your tongue. That leads to overeating and a craving for the very things that are worst for us.

There are natural ways to get that taste, but you have to spend a little time exploring. You need to take a fresh look at the fruit you buy. A lot of the mass-produced fruit has been bred to survive shipping long distances and looking good when mishandled. Unfortunately taste is often an afterthought to these industrial farmers. Many of the big names serve up food that's bland and disappointing.

Start by looking for fruit that's in season, it's often better tasting. If you have a farmer's market, sample some of the choices there. You should also pick up at least one new piece of fruit each week when you go shopping. Write down the name and your thoughts when you try a bite. Over time you'll discover fruits that you truly enjoy, that leaves you with a satisfied feeling once they're gone.

Follow these five snacking suggestions and you'll go a long way toward curbing those cravings for unhealthy foods. As you discover the wide variety of tasty healthy options, your desire for junk food will fade. Start your healthy snacking journey today.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.