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I am not a cow; I do not graze

One-Meal-at-a-TimeGrazing is not the same thing as snacking.

Grazing is a dangerous eating behavior that amounts to eating little bits of food almost constantly throughout the day. It is unplanned and by definition mindless.

A handful of M&Ms out of a co-worker’s desktop stash, a half-dozen samples at the warehouse mega-store (yes, I saw you pop that piece of Hot Pocket in your mouth), a nibble (or 20) while preparing dinner and viola! You’ve consumed hundreds more calories than you intended for the day.

Grazing can mean the difference between losing weight and not. It can be the reason for a weight loss plateau. It can be why your diet never gets off the ground in the first place. But snacking is different.

Snacking is strategic.

Snacking is a way to manage hunger.

Snacking is mandatory.

Do I win back any points I lost after last week’s declaration that dinner should consist mainly of vegetables?

In fact, these are more than snacks I’m advocating for.

My eating plan “blueprint” is actually 5 – 6 mini meals throughout the day.

Other than my “First-Thing-In-The-Morning-‘Let’s-Go-Get-It!’” smoothie and an optional late night treat, most of my snacks and meals are roughly 300 calories.

Keeping my calorie intake consistent throughout the day helps me control hunger.

While we certainly don’t just eat because we’re hungry, (who’s kidding who?!?) hunger can undo your best-laid plans to stick to your eating plan. When I’m ravenously hungry I tend to make bad food choices. I feel out of control and everything looks good, especially high-calorie foods that have a sweet/salty/fatty (think candy bars, cookies) combination that calls to me. If I’ve let myself get to this stage of hunger and I failed to pack a healthy snack with me… I am done for.

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Snacking is mandatory for me for two reasons:

  1. It helps me control the hunger pangs that lead to unplanned, catch-as-catch-can eating which undermine my best efforts every time.
  2. It helps me stick to the eating plan I’ve got in place because I know I’ve got a yummy snack coming pretty soon. It’s just around the corner, so I know I can wait.

I insist that both my snacks and my delectable late night treat – which I call optional, but truthfully eat almost every evening – meet the same criteria as all the rest of my food. That is, they must be a) healthy and b) drop-dead delicious.

So no, rice cakes are not on the menu. (Gross.)

What is on the menu? I’m so glad you asked!

My mid-morning snack is always, always, always, my PB&J smoothie. What can I say? When you find something you love, stick with it. Why do you think I’ve been married nearly 30 years? Haha!

At 4 o’clock every afternoon I have a snack that typically is one of my deeeeeeeelicious vegan cookies (it’s essentially a homemade protein bar), an apple and a homemade almond milk latte. It’s off-the-hook good and very satisfying. In fact, it’s so filling I’m not terribly hungry at dinnertime. Because I am not ravenously hungry at dinnertime I’ve got the patience and control to make myself a beautiful salad. I didn’t used to do this, and instead ate constantly while I was making dinner. I probably consumed 300-500 calories while making dinner doing this, and then sat down to a full dinner. No, that’s not a good system.

I’m going to share more 300-calorie snack ideas in Thursday’s blog. There are scads of them that you can plug into those mid-morning or late afternoon slots in the “blueprint”.  I’ll also give you several options for that late night treat you’ve got coming, so stay tuned!

Losing weight is hard. But it gets easier when you plan for it instead of grazing haphazardly all day long. And you’re so damn worth it!

Let’s go get it!

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