Stop snacking all day long
Start the day with good diet intentions but give in to snacking before noon? We show when temptation is most likely to strike, and how you can avoid the dreaded snack attack
Peckish because... you havent had breakfast yet...
If youre running on empty, your body and brain will be desperate for fuel and a brain chemical called neuropeptide Y will be triggering carb-cravings. The danger is that youll grab anything in sight, which is likely to be a calorie-laden croissant or muffin if youre out and about.
Solve it: if youve left home without breakfast, steer clear of unhealthy foods and grab a large skinny latte (around 150 cals) instead. Unlike most drinks, it contains protein and will fill you for a couple of hours.
Snack savvy: eat-anywhere Belvita Breakfast biscuits (£2.49 for six servings from the supermarket biscuit aisle) get the thumbs up from nutritionists. Add a piece of fruit, too, and breakfast is sorted.
Peckish because... your blood sugar is dipping...
Its not quite lunchtime, but youll be getting hungry, particularly if your breakfast was insubstantial. Adrenalin levels are increasing, so this is when you should be most mentally alert. But a rumbling tummy will affect your concentration levels and have you reaching for the biscuit tin if youre not careful.
Solve it: boost yourself (but dont get fat), with healthy nibbles than have no more than 100-150 calories. Choose foods that are rich in unprocessed carbs (not added sugars), so your blood glucose gets a gentle boost rather than being sent skyrocketing. A protein element works well too and helps stabilise energy levels.
Snack savvy: perfect choices include a slice of fruit loaf (unbuttered), a banana thats not overripe, peanut butter on celery sticks, or half a slice of wholemeal toast spread with reduced-fat soft cheese.
Peckish because... of your body clock...
Its entirely normal to feel a bit sleepy (and in need of an energy-boosting snack) around 3-4pm because this is the time we get a natural dip in our 24-hour biological rhythms known as circadian rhythms.
Solve it: a strong cup of coffee after lunch will help minimise the afternoon dip and stop you confusing tiredness with hunger. Levels of galanin start rising towards the evening and can encourage us to eat high-calorie fattier foods, so pre-empt cravings with foods that have healthy fats in them.
Snack savvy: choose a handful of nuts or seeds or half an avocado. Pine nuts are especially worth trying as they also contain a chemical that stimulates release of an appetite-suppressing hormone.
Peckish because... its nearly dinner-time...
Having not eaten a proper meal for a few hours means youll be genuinely hungry. So the time when you're waiting for dinner to cook can be a vulnerable time.
Solve it: to help you last without raiding the fridge, try chewing sugar-free minty gum or swig a large glass of water, which should curb the worst of your hunger for up to half an hour. Dont sink a G&T as alcohol on an empty stomach will just increase a case of the munchies.
Snack savvy: if you must eat, go for vegetable crudités with salsa or tzatziki. If you slip up and scoff too many of the wrong snacks, serve yourself less dinner.
Peckish because... you have head hunger...
Head hunger is about having your appetite triggered by emotional or psychological factors, not genuine physiological need. Theres less to occupy your mind in the evening so snacking through boredom is more likely.
Solve it: distraction is the best solution, and so much the better if it involves being active (a post-dinner stroll on lighter evenings, for example). If you absolutely know you wont be able to resist something sweet in the evening, factor it into your daily calorie allowances so you can savour and enjoy it!
Snack savvy: sipping 1-2 small glasses of wine through the evening can be your evening treat if you prefer. Or make a big bowl of fruit salad and nibble. Dont stay up too late as this increases the chance that youll eat before bed. Brush your teeth, take a bath and go to bed!