How can I enjoy snacks without gaining weight?

January 16, 2024 | 05:49 pm PT
I am fond of snacks such as fried foods and soft drinks. What is the best approach to snacking while avoiding obesity and adverse health impacts? (Hong, 29, Hanoi)


The allure of unhealthy snacks is undeniable. To snack healthily and avoid weight gain, it is crucial to discern whether your snacking is driven by hunger or just cravings.

If it is hunger, perhaps your main meals are not fulfilling enough in quantity or nutrition. Rather than resorting to snacks, consider having a balanced, smaller meal, about half the size of a regular meal, incorporating vegetables and protein.

Cravings, on the other hand, require introspection. Determine what exactly is triggering your craving - is it a specific taste or just the sight of others eating?

Chips are a popular snack. Illustration photo by Freepik

Chips are a popular snack. Illustration photo by Freepik

Recognizing the trigger allows you to indulge responsibly. Opt for snacks devoid of harmful elements like sugar, refined starches, trans fats, and artificial sweeteners. For carb-centric snacks, choose those made from whole grains such as oats and quinoa, nutritious nuts, and whole grain cereals.

Healthy, non-fattening snacks should be your go-to. These include whole grain cereal with milk, boiled edamame, nuts, fruit smoothies, vegetables, or protein-rich drinks like a whey protein shake.

With fruits and vegetables, pick those low in sugar - like cucumbers, oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits - and avoid high-sugar options such as durian, rambutan, mangoes, and jackfruit. Also, limit starchy vegetables like beets and potatoes.

Remember, snack portions should only be as much as you can hold in your palm.

There are two ideal times for snacking without affecting weight loss: right after a main meal and before exercise. A small, dessert-type snack post a vegetable-rich balanced meal can minimize negative impacts. Meanwhile, snacking before exercise wards off hunger and the risk of low blood sugar.

Dr. Phan Thai Tan

HomeFiT’s Nutrition Coach

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