How to Snack Smarter When You're Watching Your Portions

One of people's biggest complaints about being on a "diet" — there's that terrible four-letter word again — is that they are always hungry! But it doesn't have to be that way. You can eat healthy meals in sensible portions that contain the right balance of macronutrients and feel full and satisfied all day long.

If you've been joining us for The 4-Week Portion Control Challenge, you already know just how easy measuring your portions can be. And by now maybe you have even begun to master your three main meals of the day — breakfast, lunch and dinner. But what about snacks?

Here is Danika Brysha, founder and CEO of Model Meals, a healthy meal delivery service, to help you snack smarter while still watching your portion sizes.

Snacking Tips to Keep Your Healthy Eating on Track

  • Listen to your body and decide whether you are truly physically hungry or just emotionally hungry.
  • To determine whether you're physically hungry, ask yourself, "Does my body need fuel right now?" and "Has it been some time since my last meal?"
  • If you're always hungry after a meal, try adding a bit more protein or a healthy fat source (hard-boiled egg, avocado or smoked salmon, for example).
  • After you give your meals a little boost, if you're still hungry in between lunch and dinner, try adding a small snack.
  • Listen to your body and find mealtimes and portions that work best for you. This may take a little bit of trial and error.

Need a snack? Here are some great healthy snack options for you to choose from:

  • Smoked salmon (protein and fat)
  • Almonds (fat)
  • Olives (fat)
  • Baby carrots (vegetables)
  • Celery with almond butter (vegetable and fat)

How to Join the Portion Control Challenge

1. Bookmark this easy-to-use guide to estimating portion sizes that was created by nutrition coach John Berardi, Ph.D. In it he describes how to measure your portions using just your hand. Here is the gist of it:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your vegetable portions.
  • Your cupped hand determines your carbohydrate portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

2. Print out the graphic below and hang it on your fridge as a mealtime reminder. Each time you're preparing to eat, make sure your plate features:

  • 2 palms of protein-dense foods with each meal (1 for women)
  • 2 fists of vegetables with each meal (1 for women)
  • Optional: 2 cupped hands of carb-dense foods (1 for women)
  • Optional: 2 thumb-size portions of fat-dense foods (1 for women)

3. Download LIVESTRONG.COM's free calorie-tracking app MyPlate for iOS or Android. Measuring your portions is only one part of a successful weight-loss or weight-maintenance strategy. Once you've portioned out your breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, enter it into the app to make sure you're staying on target for the day's calories, carbs, protein and fat.

4. Join the LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Facebook group. We'll be posting lots of helpful info and recipes, answering all your questions and connecting you to other members of the community who are joining you for the challenge.

5. Post photos of your meals each day to the Facebook group so that you have an effective and accurate record of what you're eating as well as to get support and inspiration from other members of the community to help you stay on track.

What Do YOU Think?

Will you be joining us for the 4-Week Portion Control Challenge? Have you joined the Facebook group yet? Have you ever tried to lose weight before? Or do you currently measure out your macronutrient portions or count calories? Have you tried any other weight-loss strategies? What worked for you? What didn't? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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