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Never Go Hungry: The Real Secret to Healthy Weight Loss

Watching your weight? If “calories-in, calories-out” is your mantra, try changing up your food routine and start repeating the real secret to maintaining a healthy weight: Eat more.

Truth is, you gotta snack in order to feel full.

According to Skinny Cook Allison Fishman, “Eat more!” is the best advice you can get when it comes to weight loss. Why? Because we’re usually packing on pounds not because our breakfast is too big, but because we overeat after 5:00.

If you’re snacking on anything that fits effectively into your mouth when the clock strikes the dinner hour, it’s probably because you didn’t get an adequate amount of calories during the day.

Fishman recommends adding a do-not-miss mid-afternoon snack to your day – 200 calories or so – and if you need it, one mid-morning as well. The key is eliminating blood sugar crashes, providing yourself with consistent energy, and not inhaling food after five out of pure starvation.

Eating small portions throughout the day also helps increase metabolism, keeps the brain out of the late-day fog, and helps us avoid temptation for things we would ordinarily shun (think donuts in the snack room) if we were properly fed.

So start a brand new weight loss mantra: Never go hungry. You may see the pounds start to fall off. Plus, you won’t be distracted by that annoying rumbling sound anymore.

6 Tips for Vigorous Snacking for the Skinny-to-be:

1. Get a serving. Maybe it’s a fruit or veggie serving, maybe it’s a healthy fish serving. Either way, snacking is a ready-made way to fill the gaps in your nutrition. Fishman keeps crisp bread with smoked salmon and herbs around for a mini gourmet snack that replaces a bulky bagel – under and buck and 45 calories.

2. Eat brain food. If you’re having a snack, choose one that’s good for your brain. Berries, for example, improve blood flow and keep small blood vessels working efficiently, allowing for better brain health and performance. Studies show that rats that eat blueberries get through their mazes quicker and have a higher level of regenerating cells in their brains – just what we need to combat mid-day human slumps.

3. Pack your own. Buying those 100 calorie snacks that come in mini packages is a sure way to hike up your food bill. Forget the packages: make you own by cutting fresh veggies, bringing yogurt or packaging your own leftovers in your own moderate size bag, box or wrap. Keeping full throughout the day requires some planning ahead, so do the 3-step snack shuffle – shop, prepare, and package – every day.

4. Combine it. Combining foods that work well together can make your snack life more interesting and more satisfying. Carrots and hummus or apples and a cheese wedge or teaspoon of peanut butter can keep you from chewing bare celery all day and feeling deprived as a result. Having herbs at the ready (dill, basil, cilantro), using citrus (a squeeze of lemon or lime on salads, fruits and proteins), and sprinkling coarse salt on your homemade snacks can rev up your taste buds and turn boring into gourmet.

5. Get creative. Step away from the bird seed, and get yourself an eating well handbook to enrich your meal planning ideas and jazz up your snacking. In You Can Trust a Skinny Cook, Allison Fishman offers up yummy Parmesan Twists for 97 calories per serving, and fabulous Stuffed Mushrooms for 107. Check out her “Something to Munch” section for tons of easy recipes that turn deprivation into a thing of the past.

6. Check your portions. It’s an equation that works: eating during the day means cutting portions at the end of the day. And whether it’s a mid-day snack or dinner blow out, you may not have to eat as much as you currently are. Gimmicks like smaller plates, putting you main course on your salad plate (and your salad on your entrée plate) or immediately cutting your meal in half and saving it for tomorrow’s lunch can provide the crutch you need to understand what your stomach really needs…and what it doesn’t so much. Life, like lunch, is long…you can always eat later.

Get the last word on snacking from the Mayo Clinic’s How Snacks Fit Into Your Diet Plan.

Try these 30 Healthy Snacks from Self magazine.

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