It’s not rocket science, really. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to overeat. And, if you have to wait too long between meals, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. “It is very difficult for most people to withstand temptation when they are very hungry,” says Sonya Angelone, R.D., a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Of course, there’s a big difference between snacking on junk food whenever you want and snacking on stuff that’s good for you in a planned-out way, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health, and it’s important to be smart about your snacking.
Reach For Water First
Hunger pangs (when contractions start to occur in the stomach) can actually feel really similar to the sign that you’re thirsty, Angelone says. If you feel starving when it’s snack time, try having some water first. It could prevent you from overeating.
Avoid Sugary Stuff
“Snacks that are nothing more than sugar kilojoules, like soda, candy, or many energy bars, are a waste of kilojoules and won’t help you meet your healthy weight goals,” Upton says. These snacks can also cause your blood sugar to spike, which is followed by a crash—and that can make you feel like eating again not long after you snack.
Prep Your Snacks in Advance
Angelone recommends having your snacks prepped and ready for when it’s go time. Also, put the tempting stuff where it’s out of reach or out of sight so you don’t get the urge to grab them in a pinch.
Choose High Protein Options
“Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates alone, so you’ll feel satisfied longer,” Angelone says. A high-protein snack like a handful of nuts or hard-boiled egg also help keep your blood sugar stable, which makes it unlikely that you’ll be hungry again before you should.