I know I usually give you guys a fitness update every Monday and so this one is late. The problem is that I don’t really have any sure fire advice for this last issue. Yes, you heard right; this will be the last update. This is also the hardest part people have to deal with.
I’m speaking, of course, about:
Before we can get into how to be healthy with snacks, it’s helpful to know why we snack in the first place. This isn’t a very easy area to cover, since many people do it for different reasons. Healthy people will often say “A bunch of carrot sticks is all I need in the day” and good for them. Computer-dwelling geeks are not them. But does that mean we are doomed to forever ruin our waistlines with Fritos and Mountain Dew?
Why We Snack
Perhaps it isn’t mere coincidence that people who have the most sedentary jobs tend to snack worse than those who might be more active. Studies have raged back and forth as to whether or not this is totally true, but many people believe that chewing helps stimulate the brain and aid memory for a brief period of time. Some studies hold that this isn’t true, but our bodies don’t seem to care what they say; they do it anyway.
You might even do this unconsciously; mindlessly snacking on a roadtrip to help stay focused on the road, chewing your pencil during a tricky part of a test, or (as is the case for many of us) snacking in front of the computer even when you aren’t hungry at all!
This isn’t the only reason, to be sure. Sometimes your blood sugar might be low. Sometimes your body is craving a random element at that moment. The reasons can be as varied as the people giving them, but the bottom line is the same: We snack. A lot.
What We Can Do About It
And here’s the trouble; I don’t know. I really don’t.
Something needs to be done, since many of the snacks we typically ingest can single-handedly ruin an entire workout or diet plan. Don’t believe me?
My diet is limited to 1830 calories per day. In addition to the calorie limit, I also try to stay under 61 g fat, 300 mg cholesterol, 2500 mg sodium, and 37 g sugar.
A single 20 oz Mountain Dew contains 290 calories and 77 g of sugar. This means that in the time it takes me to chug a bottle down (47 seconds), I have taken in more than twice my daily amount of sugar.
Mind you, that’s just a single soda. Nevermind anything else I want to munch on in an afternoon. A habit of snacking can actually be the wall that keeps you from losing any weight at all. And considering it’s a natural part of everyone’s day you can’t just tell people to stop it entirely. People do have different bits of advice regarding it though:
- Don’t snack on sugary/salty things – This is very true, except most snacks that don’t have some amount of this are pretty bland and tasteless. Nothing will drive you into the happy embrace of that guilty snack faster than an hour with a bland one.
- Don’t eat empty calories- This is another one that would make a lot of sense if it weren’t for the fact that it’s assuming we’re snacking because we’re hungry. You don’t want to eat one little thing that has more sugar than you’re supposed to eat all day because your body wouldn’t ingest enough calories to make it worth it. However, we’ve already determined that often times we snack when we’re just bored. Filling up has nothing to do with it.
- Chew gum- I personally believe this is a totally valid answer . . . except I can’t stand gum. So while it might work great for you, I’m afraid it’s a no-go for me.
- Drink water instead- This might sound like foolish advice, as it doesn’t actually make your body do any chewing and so you miss out on the advantages listed above. But somehow, it works. If you’re the type, you can chew your ice and that helps simulate munching on a snack. The only issue is that it can get bland pretty fast.
I’ve personally found that trail mix and granola is a good snack for me to munch in the afternoon. Yes, it has sugars in it that up my calorie intake, but it’s far less than I’ve found in other food items. It’s also dry enough that it encourages me to drink more water afterwards, which is always a win.
As for you . . . well, you’re going to have to find your own route on this one. People are all very different, and so are their snacking habits. The rest of the stuff was easy; snacking is the real challenge.
Now, as to why this is my last fitness post.
The points I’ve covered so far are not an all encompassing guide to losing weight and staying fit. A big reason for this is because there IS NO all encompassing guide. The things I’ve discovered to help other geeks and computer dwellers are things we’ve been told for years, but often without the explanation behind them that might take them more to heart. In truth, however, it’s taken almost no effort to start changing my habits in this manner. In this time, I’ve lost 10 pounds. Ten pounds, with no effort. That’s the low hanging fruit, the stuff that’s easy to accomplish.
From here on out, the only advice I can give to anyone is to keep with it. It may cost you a little more money to buy the good stuff. It might take up some of your time to do frustratingly repetitive exercises. It might even require you changing your sleep schedule to make sure you can keep up this lifestyle. But it’s not like we’re strangers to any of this, is it?