5 tips for controlling snacking

How to get your snack balance right...

On training days banana bread is a good snack

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Dietician Aisling Pigott, from the British Dietetic Association, offers some advice on getting your snack balance right…

1. Spot snack times

“Cyclists can see a surge in appetite for up to three days after a long race. Even if you’re trying to manage your weight, avoid overly extreme notions like stopping snacking altogether, but plan to have healthy balanced meals and snack options for when you need them. This prevents common cycles of guilt and overeating.”

2. Stick to tea times

“Never skip meals to lose weight,” Pigott advises. “Regulating mealtimes in a routine prevents snacking, as athletes feel more in control and ‘in tune’ with their hunger and satiety levels. Be mindful and appreciative of what you’re eating too — turn off the TV and focus on your food and you’ll feel less likely to reach for the biscuit tin.”

3. Select suitable snacks

“On training days snacks such as homemade banana bread (reduce the fat by replacing butter with apple purée in the recipe) or dried fruit are carb-filled for fuelling, but on non-exercise days or for shorter rides eat yoghurt and fruit for a quick energy boost without excessive calories.”

4 Handy in the kitchen

“Make sure meals contain starchy carbs, such as pasta, potato or rice, ideally in a portion about the size of your fist; protein from meat or pulses about the size of the palm of your hand and fruit or vegetables — ideally taking up about a third or more of your plate. This balance reduces the risk of snacking and overeating later in the day.”

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5. Use mind control

“Psychological and practical prompts I use with athletes include: Stop using the word reduce — use the word control instead. Plan your snacks ahead of time to avoid guilt and don’t bring unhealthy snacks into the house to begin with,” says Pigott. “Remember that a craving only lasts for 20 minutes, so get out and do something before eating.”