3 Snacking Habits to Break Stat (and What to Try Instead)

Most of us would agree that we love to snack. Whether it’s that bowl of popcorn on date night or a juicy peach before dinner, snacking can be almost a pastime. Unfortunately, this is not always a good thing. A snack or two here and there can turn into an endless grazing marathon that’s not good for you or your now-empty cabinet.

But to give up on snacking forever? That’s out of the question. So what’s a snacker to do? We talked to nutritionists to find out what snacking habits to keep and which to break up with—stat. 

Nighttime snacking

First things first: Nighttime snacking isn’t always a bad thing. Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian, says weight gain from nighttime eating is a total nutritional myth. The problem with nighttime snacking, however, is its root cause: boredom. Most bedtime snacking occurs because we tend to be more relaxed and significantly less active than during the day, when we are often working or doing chores. 

Try instead: Plan your snacks

If you’re prone to coming home from work and grabbing whatever’s in the cabinet, try planning your snacks ahead of time. By leaving the choice up to your daytime self, you’re less likely to veer off the path at night.

Satisfying cravings

It’s perfectly normal to have cravings once in a while, but when satisfying that need for sweets or crunch becomes a habit, it’s time to end the trend. Soon these cravings are simply excuses to eat junk, and we all know that isn’t helping anyone. Ficek says the best way to avoid cravings is to simply stay away from the temptations. “Take the junk food out of your house and replace it with healthy snacks,” she advises. “If you get a craving, drink water instead.”

Try instead: Snacking to satisfy

If you’re craving a certain food, oftentimes it means you’re missing something else from your diet. Choose snacks that will satisfy your body instead, such as a protein, rather than simply fulfilling a tempting desire.

Mindless snacking

How many times have you found yourself plopped in front of the TV, bag of chips in lap and before you know it, your hand comes up empty. Mindless snacking is a common bad snacking habit for most and, unfortunately, results in a ton of wasted calories, energy and money.

Try instead: Mindful snacking

The best way to avoid this mindless munching is to think about what and why you are snacking. Nutritionist Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, says to stop and ask yourself: Am I bored? Am I looking to nourish my body with something I’m missing? By intervening, you stop the process and practice a snacking that, in the end, is more beneficial and nutritious.

Stephanie Limiti is a born and raised New Yorker living out her dreams of palm trees and sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not zenned out in yoga class, she's reading biographies and volunteering at dog rescue shelter. Follow her on Instagram.