Question: I don't have a problem with my weight, but I'm trying to eat a healthier diet. I eat a good breakfast; usually a salad for lunch and what I think is a good dinner at night. The problem is afternoon and evening snacking. I feel like I'm hungry all the time, and it's so easy to nibble on something and not always something that's good for me.
Melinda - About.com User
Answer: If you want to get away from between meal snacks, you may need to figure out why you're snacking so much. If you're hungry, you may need to eat more at lunch and dinner so you can make it to the next meal without the extra nibbles. If you're munching is mindless then maybe you need to rearrange your environment so you don't automatically grab something and shove it into your mouth whenever you get bored.
Don't keep candy at your desk and avoid the vending machines. Grab a glass of water instead of a bag of chips when you're watching TV, gaming, playing on the Internet or reading a book at night. In fact, keeping a water bottle with you for an occasional quick sip might be a good way to curb the habit of eating something.
If you're snacking because you're bored or stressed, try going for a walk, getting some exercise or maybe even calling or texting a friend. Friends and family can be the best support system -- ask them to help keep your mind off snacking.
Maybe you don't need to give up your nightly nibbles. Snacking isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as you stay within your daily calorie allowance. Some people find it's easier to follow a balanced diet when they eat a healthful mid-meal snack because they don't overeat at the next meal.
Use your snacks to boost your nutritional intake. Choose fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers, low-fat yogurt, nuts, and fresh vegetables. This way, you'll get extra vitamins, minerals and fiber. A little bit of cheese, a hard boiled egg or lean meat is fine too, but watch your serving sizes because these foods are energy dense. Avoid candy bars, cookies, cakes and pastries, ice cream, and greasy chips or packaged snack foods.
Department of Agriculture (USDA)and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Accessed June 29, 2013. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm.