I'm the first to say that I love sampling, grazing, snacking, call it what you will, but absolutely despise the added calories while lacking the feeling of fullness.
It's a party in my mouth all.day.long - can you see why that's both good and bad? Who can blame me? I'm home (or driving, or sitting at the park, or nursing... you get the picture) all the time. Inevitably, I'm prone to stealing a bit or two here or there.
Sampling J's food, which I would never typically eat, while I walk it to the table is where I get hit the hardest. Mac and cheese, anyone?
But there is a simple trick to snacking that can allow you to satiate the hunger, sample the sweet treat, or even feed a craving without wreaking havoc on your health or body.
The Golden Rule of snacking:
Limit your snacks to approximately 100 calories for every hour before your next meal.
Generally, we love to put something in our mouth about every 2-3 hours. If you are human, like the rest of us, then those calories can easily add up to exceed your daily caloric limit, especially if you are not physically active enough to maintain a healthy weight.
However, if you space out your portioned snacks, they can help boost your metabolism rather than harm any progress you may have already made towards a healthier you.
For example, let's say you have had a particularly hurried morning and didn't offer yourself a satiating breakfast. It's 10am and you're starting to sing the Whinnie The Pooh song ("I'm so rumbly in my tumbly; time for something nice!") Lunch is just around the corner, but maybe it's OK to have a little something before then. Hmm.. This dark chocolate chia seed granola bar sounds nice. But it'll cost you 140 calories and it's rather wimpy looking. Will it hold you down until lunch time?
That's a great question. But you're missing the point.
The point of snacking is not to hold you over until your next meal, t's to quiet the tiger, as I like to say. Something light to calm the rumbly in your tumbly. If your wimpy looking (but oh so delicious!) granola bar is 140 calories, then wait at least an hour and a half before eating your next meal. It's that simple.
The granola bar will be plenty to calm the tiger (that chocolate will hit your pleasure center, alerting your body that it is satisfied - even just for a little while).
If you feel it's not enough, try drinking some water. If flat water is not your thing, go for some sparkling water. The carbonation may help you feel full longer.
If you can learn to adapt your perception of hunger and recognize whether you're actually hungry or just thirsty (or stressed, tired, or even emotional), you will be more likely to make better choices and choose smaller portions. It's a win/win situation!