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So you’re trying to lose weight but snacking is your enemy? Here’s how to keep the diet devil at bay the healthy way!

To snack or not to snack – that is the question. Snacking can be a great way for some of us to control our weight and keep hunger pangs at bay, however for others, snacking can make weight management extremely difficult. Caitlin Reid, author of “Health & the City” (Longueville Media, $22.95), gives you’re the top four tips to healthy snacking.

1. Watch your portion sizes: Many of us choose snacks that are more like mini meals. We’ll grab a mega muffin, which contains over 2000kJ, for morning tea or 3000kJ fudge brownie for an afternoon pick-me up. But these options contain four to five times the kilojoules that should be consumed for a snack. To crush hunger pangs and help manage your weight, choose snack options that contain less than 600kJ.

2. Make a healthy choice: Snacks should supply you with energy, satisfy your hunger and provide important nutrients. Try to stay away from the sugary and fatty convenience foods, as these contain huge amounts of kilojoules but don’t give you important vitamins and minerals. Look for snacks that contain wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products.

3. Tune into your hunger: Many of us have learnt to ignore our natural hunger signals, as well as our food satisfaction levels. We eat out of habit, when stressed or when bored, even though it’s best to limit snacking to the times when we’re actually hungry. A good way to assess whether you are hungry or not before you dive into a snack, is to rate you hunger prior to eating on a scale from one (starving) to ten (past full). You should aim to record about a four before eating – this means you’re peckish, but not so hungry that you’ll eat anything you get your hands on.

4. Be organised: Often we will reach for the sweet treats when we are stressed or starving and haven’t any other convenient choices available. To be a healthy snacker, you need to be organised. Make snacking easy by preparing healthy snacks in advance. Cut up vegetable sticks and leave them in the fridge; stock up of low-fat yoghurts or portion out your own trail mixes. Planning your snacks and having healthy options readily available makes it less likely that you will reach for kilojoule-laden treats such as chips, muffins and chocolate.

For more information on how you can stay healthy, visit www.healthandthecity.com.au.