We’ve all been there—say, 4 p.m. on a Friday—when you just. Can’t. Resist. While we would never condemn snacking (that’s blasphemy in our book), we did want to find out how we could indulge in afternoon pleasures without the guilt. So we asked health and wellness specialist Dr. Frank Lipman for his top recommendations on how to overhaul our snacking habits.
Curb Late-Day Cravings Early
“My idea of a good breakfast includes protein, fat, and good nutrients,” says Dr. Lipman. “Omelettes are a great option, or even leftovers from the night before. If you eat toast or cereal, two to three hours later you’ll be hungry. If you have protein or a shake, you won’t get hungry or crave a ton of food.” If you’re a cheese fiend like us and need a dose of dairy with your eggs, opt for easy-to-digest choices like goat or sheep cheese. Going the leftover route? “Any kind of fish on gluten-free bread is great,” says Dr. Lipman.
Quench Your Thirst
If you have a sudden onset of the munchies, drink a glass of H2O first. “Often you’re just thirsty,” says Dr. Lipman. “Most of us don’t realize it and will just grab some food, but if you have some water or go for a walk, sometimes the craving will pass.”
Watch Out for Hidden Sugars
Many so-called healthy snacks are packed with sugars under pseudonyms—e.g., barley malt, brown rice syrup, carbitol, glycerol—or other concentrated doses of sweeteners that you may not recognize. A few of the worst culprits are protein bars, dried fruit, smoothies, and even juice—though green juice is much better than a cranberry cocktail. “Most protein and snack bars have a minimum of 14-16 grams of sugar—that’s four teaspoons worth in a single serving,” says Dr. Lipman.
Avoid Packaged Foods
“Most foods you eat shouldn’t have labels,” says Dr. Lipman. The best choices for a quick snack: nuts and seeds, like flax, slices of apple with almond butter, veggies and hummus, and the piece de resistance—a small piece of dark chocolate. If you’re feeling more energetic, try making baked kale chips at home, or whip up a vegetable and protein smoothie.