February is American Heart Month and one way to improve heart health is by improving your diet and controlling your weight. At Paul Klein, DPM FACFAS, we want patients to know that maintaining a healthy weight is also beneficial to your feet. Excess pounds put strain on feet and ankles and can increase your risk for several lower extremity disorders. Snacking is one area where it’s easy to fall prey to empty calories. Try the tips below to improve your snack habits:
Re-Think Your Snacks—Fiber and protein are two components of a healthy and satisfying snack. Fiber found in fruits and whole grains takes longer to break down and helps you feel full until your next meal. Protein, such as nuts, peanut butter, or cheese, provides energy and also satisfies hunger. Get creative and use snack time to try out some more exotic fruits or veggies. You can still satisfy a salt or sweet craving with healthy choices: salsa and whole grain tortilla chips instead of potato chips; a dessert-flavored yogurt in place ice cream or cookies.
Ask Why are You Eating? Ideally, a snack is supposed to give you fuel between meals. Wait until you actually feel hungry before snacking. If you think you’re hungry, have a glass of water first. Many times, people mistake thirst for hunger. Avoid emotional eating when you’re bored, tired, sad, or angry.
Plan Ahead—Pack or prepare snacks at the beginning of the day. An apple and some almonds or individual hummus cups and cut up vegetables can be just as easy to grab as a bag of chips or cookies from the vending machine if you take a few minutes to prepare them. Having them handy when hunger strikes lessens the chances of a poor impulse choice.
Focus on Food—Mindless eating is responsible for many excess calories being consumed. Having an open package of anything that you keep dipping into as you read email, watch tv, or run errands is a sure way to guarantee over snacking. Measure out a serving size and avoid doing other things while you eat. Keep a food diary or use an app on your phone to record daily calories to help you be more accountable and less likely to eat without thinking about it.