Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Health

Learn to curb those snack attacks for better weight control

Americans have been getting more obese in recent decades because of two main factors: less movement and more calories. At the same time, snacking between meals has become a big part of the American lifestyle, fueling the second half of the obesity equation.

Snacking can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily intake that you don't even notice, until the evidence turns up on the scale. That's because most people snack mindlessly, regarding both quantity and quality.

Most packaged snack foods are loaded with calories, salt, sugar, fat and other ingredients our bodies can do without. Sure, they're tasty. In fact, they're engineered to taste good so you'll want to eat more. To the manufacturer, profit is the priority, not your health.

Next time you're in the grocery store, notice how much space is devoted to pretzels, chips, sodas, crackers, cookies, pastries and candies. Then note how many of those products you normally throw into your cart as part of your family's diet. How necessary are these products to your health? How much do you spend on them every week or month?

Perhaps you go for snack foods that promise to be better for you? Recently, a national television show featured a nutritionist who showed that even snack foods labeled "low fat," "low sugar" or bearing some other suggestion of health can be far from good for you. A bowl of sweet potato chips, for instance, contained just as much fat, salt and calories as conventional potato chips.

Besides, exceeding your daily calorie needs can cause weight gain no matter if the calories come from foods that are healthy or unhealthy.

Still, snacking isn't all bad. The proper time to snack is when you feel physically hungry and know that if you don't have a snack, you'll be so famished by your next meal that you'll likely overeat or lose control later. At a time like this, it makes total sense to eat, but do it mindfully — thinking about what you're putting into your body, what benefits it will provide and how it will complement the rest of the day's intake.

If you snack more than once per day, snack mindlessly, spend a lot of money on packaged snack foods and are having trouble achieving a healthy weight, you might be a "problem snacker." If so, it's time to look at reducing and changing your snacks. Here are a few tips to accomplish that:

• Make note of how often you snack each day and what foods you usually choose.

• Learn how to read nutrition labels so you can determine if a snack is really healthy.

• Get rid of the most-caloric, least-nutritious snacks from your kitchen and grocery list.

• Just because something isn't usually called a snack food doesn't mean it can't be one. For example, yogurt with fruit and nuts can be eaten as a meal, as part of a meal or as a snack. A portion of last night's healthy meal can be a snack today.

• Eat well-balanced meals so you're less likely to be hungry between meals. The USDA's website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, is an easy way to learn what eating well means. When you satisfy your body's nutritional needs your between-meal cravings will diminish.

• Get busy just before usual snack times. Sometimes we get in the habit of snacking when we're bored, not really hungry. Finding active ways to occupy those times will help you break that habit.

• Eat before your hunger gets out of control.

• Gradually reduce quantities rather than going cold turkey. The mind tends to be more compliant if it perceives that what you want it to do isn't so difficult. So, use small steps to gradually reduce the size and improve the quality of snacks.

Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez is a Tampa psychologist and expert in weight management. She is the author of "Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management." Send questions to her at [email protected]

Comments
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA ó Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Published: 06/19/18
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, donít forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. Thatís because both products work to protect your body from the sunís damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG ó Kidney disease doesnít discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

YES, MELANOMAS CAN BEGIN IN THE EYEIs it true that melanoma can develop in the eyes? If so, how common is it? How is it treated?Melanomas can begin in the eye, a condition called intraocular melanoma. Treatment for intraocular melanomas used to prima...
Published: 06/08/18
For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

High-intensity interval training is one of the biggest trends in fitness, but it has always seemed a bit scary to me. To a mere mortal with achy knees and an aging body, even the acronym ó HIIT ó sounded intimidating.But recently, I overcame my fears...
Published: 06/08/18
Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

By KATIE WORKMANOne of the amazing things about Italian food is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredient simple. (We donít count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.) I love broccoli. I can roast brocc...
Published: 06/08/18
What to get Dad? Try a Fatherís Day gift that will do him good

What to get Dad? Try a Fatherís Day gift that will do him good

Dads are notoriously tough to shop for. Theyíre not all that great at dropping hints, the way moms do, and if you ask what your dad might want or need for Fatherís Day, heíll likely say, "Nothing" or "Donít spend your money" or "I just want to be wit...
Published: 06/08/18