A few ways.... I drink tons of water and eat a piece of fruit. If I'm in the mood for something more substantial, a handful of almonds or some organic banana chips do the trick for me. But always with water!
Thoughtfully. First of all, don't cave into vending machine garbage. Second, if you are truly hungry (not just looking for dessert, etc.), then try a little salad. Sometimes it's hard to wait until dinner time.
I agree, it's good to drink a lot of water. Dr. Stephen Gullo recommends Polly O non-fat string cheese. Or, try a little can of tuna with lemon squeezed in.
Queen of Denial.... Mid-afternoon cravings were a bigger problem for me while I was in a traditional workplace than they are for me now that I'm working at home. Denying a craving when everyone around me was munching seemed so unfair so it backfired ... and I binged. Eventually, I learned to pack apples and sugar-free hot chocolate packets for those times. Now, I make sure I eat breakfast and lunch so I am not famished in the afternoon. I still plan an afternoon fruit snack, usually grapes.
I snack throughout the day. I'm one of those people who is constantly nibbling throughout the day. A little here, a little there. Nothing big or fattening - a handful of nuts from some trail mix, for example. If I nibble enough then I often have to remind myself to eat dinner because sometimes I won't even get that hungry. I do believe that nibbling like this helps to keep your metabolism high as well.
Fruit and nuts. Fruit and nuts are a healthy way to satisfy afternoon cravings. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and sugar, both of which cause blood sugar level imbalances and cravings.
Fruit and low-fat, organic cereal. You can't go wrong with an apple as a snack. But I've also learned that organic cereal, like Kashi, are also good. Just a half cup to a cup is perfect to hold me over to a meal.
Cereal!!!. I have to admit, I love that Special K commercial where the girl is getting a crazy late night craving for chocolate or ice cream or whatever and then she goes and grabs a dish of Special K cereal.
Cereal is indeed excellent - the Kashi or Special K are my favorites - because it's a little bit sweet but also gives you something solid and healthy. You feel like you're getting a treat but it's a low cal treat.
A little protein goes a long way. Fruit is a great idea for an afternoon snack but don't forget that a great way to keep yourself feeling satisfied for longer is to include protein in your snack. Some great sources of protein are low fat cottage cheese and yogurt. Be sure to stay away from the sweetened yogurt as there can be way more sugar in it than you need. The best bet is to buy plain and then add your own fruit to flavor it. I usually have a piece of fruit and some cheese. The fat and protein in the cheese help keep me going.
Chewing gum. I usually pop up a chewing gum in the afternoon. It helps me to stay awake as well as keep me away from the vending machines. If I am truly hungry, I usually go for an apple or a small orange juice at Jamba Juice.
Eat Often. I make sure to have breakfast (oatmeal or yogurt and fruit), gotta start the day off right. I have a piece of fruit mid morning, lunch and then another peice of fruit late afternoon. I dring water throughout the day. I also bring a snack for on the way home like carrots so I am not starving when I get home. And if I really must have an unhealthy snack in the afternoon then I will go to the hospital gift shop where they have small individually wrapped chocolates, which have a lot less calories then anything you might get in the evil vending machines.
about popcorn.... Just a note, since someone suggested popcorn as a good snack. I used to eat light microwave popcorn all the time, until I came across this piece of news about an illness related to the diacetyl added to popcorn to replace/mimmick butter, which mainly affects workers in the factories that produce the popcorn, but could be a risk to consumers as well. The companies are now saying they will replace/omit diacetyl, but I'm not sure if/when this is going to happen, so I would carefully read the labels...
Here is an article about it:
Addressing the hunger part of cravings. Hunger is due to the hormonal response to low blood sugar and a concurrent empty stomach (which actually has pressure sensors when full to reduce hunger even if blood sugar is low). Salad or vegetables have the most bulk per calorie so they reduce hunger the most via stomach filling. Starches, such as oatmeal, high fiber cereal or a microwaved yam (eats like an energy bar) are higher in calories than vegetables but boost blood sugar for energy without the blood sugar swing (and crash) associated with rapidly-digesting carbs (e.g. cereals high in sugar, white bread or crackers, etc). Some fruit (e.g. a banana) digest faster than others (e.g. an apple) due to the difference in fiber and sugar content, so an apple is more filling. Protein and fats (e.g. nuts) are not as filling in the stomach but result in a hormonal response that reduces hunger more than carbs (meaning starches, fruit and vegetables) over the course of 2 or 3 hours. So, in summary, to reduce hunger immediately eat some vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, or some carrots, although the latter are higher in calories than most vegetables), to reduce hunger for up to an hour and boost energy a bit at the same time without a blood sugar swing eat 50-100 Cal of fruit or whole-grain starch, and to reduce hunger for more than an hour include some nuts or nut butter as a fat source (or some olives with the vegetables for flavoring). Snack examples are: A slice of whole grain bread with a thin layer of nut butter and a small plumb, or a rye cracker with some veggies and a few olives. The simpler approach of just using a piece of fruit or some almonds is also fine. But if a person has serious mid-afternoon cravings that cuts into their concentration and nags them day after day, a snack that more aggresively addresses all the components of hunger should be considered. I just started a group "Clyde Wilson Science Diet": those interested in a scientific dialogue on nutrition are welcome to join. See my profile for the nutrition courses I teach at Stanford.
I agree with others. I agree with what some others have said: snack throughout the day. That's what I do. I find this tremendously decreases my urge to snack mid-afternoon and late at night. Also, ask yourself about your urge to snack: is it hunger related, or really an underlying boredom or anxiety that is interpreted as hunger. If this is the case, treat those symptoms first, then see how you feel. I also agree with chewing gum...keeps my mouth busy.
Apples are Great!. I get very satisfied with an apple in the afternoon; especially, when it's the season for apples like now. The nutritional properties of apples is effective cleansing tool as well as improve lung function.
If the apple is not enough; I grab a handful of Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts is the most nutritious nut around rich in protein, B1, E, biotin, iron, calcium, magnesium, omega-26 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, fiber and glutathione
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