7 Expert Tips For Snacking Sensibly

Vending machine calling your name? Don't ignore your midday cravings, says Manhattan-based nutritionist and Zeel Expert Laura Cipullo. As she explains, "I actually encourage snacking. I think it helps you to prevent overeating at other meals."

A full-time dietitian and a busy New York City mom, Laura knows that snacking in a sensible manner (whether for ourselves or for our children) can be tough, and like anything else, there's a right and a wrong way. Simplify the process by making sure to follow Laura's list of snacking do's.

Make it a habit. Like brushing your teeth or walking the dog, your afternoon snack should become a daily habit. By training your body to consume a small snack in between lunch and dinner (or between lunch and happy hour), you'll eventually begin to eat smaller meals in the evening.

Watch the clock. The best time to snack is between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.. That's when your cortisol levels change, fatigue hits, and the energy from that delicious turkey sandwich you had for lunch begins to wear off. Snacking will help you perk up and regain focus.

Bring it with you. Resist the candy jar by bringing a snack with you to work. Having a healthy piece of fruit on hand makes it easier to control what you eat, even when you're tired, cranky and jonesing for a Milky Way.

Mix and match. Balance your snack. It should have at least two out of the three major macronutrients: a whole grain or fresh (aka fruit or veggie) carbohydrates, a lean protein and a healthy fat. Try natural peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast or dip carrots into a serving of roasted pepper hummus. Get creative.

Plan ahead. It's OK if you have to venture out to the deli for your afternoon snack. Just remember that if you are going to step foot into a chip-laden store, preplan your purchase to avoid making an ill-advised decision. Grab a non-fat Greek yogurt, not a bag of Doritos.

Allow yourself a slip. So Pinkberry is calling your name. We're all human, right? Go ahead and allow yourself a sugary, less nutritious snack every now and then. If you do opt for a small cup of froyo though, skip sugary toppings like chocolate chips.

Question yourself. Ask, "Will that keep me full long enough?" No matter what snack you choose to eat, remember that it should be able to keep you full until dinnertime rolls around. If the answer is no, then find a more satisfying snack.

By: StacyAtZeel. For personalized nutrition counseling and dietary advice, book an appointment with Laura through Zeel.