Tips for Mindful Snacking

Mindful Snacking Tips

Life is busy for all of us, and it can feel impossible to slow down and make intentional choices about the food we eat each day. Most of us know that by paying closer attention to our bodies, minds, and meals, we can take better care of our overall well-being. But how do we hack into our higher nutritional goals in the heat—or hunger!—of the moment? One way is to draw more attention to our hunger cues throughout the day. Specifically, mindful snacking can help prevent extreme hunger between larger meals and fill gaps in our daily nutrients. Read on for four easy tips to tune up your mindfulness around snacks.

1. Ask yourself what you’re looking for

Are you truly hungry? Or do you just need a break or some “me” time? Our 2022 Food and Health Survey found that 73% of consumers report snacking at least once a day, an increase from the 58% who said the same in 2021. Of those who snack, 34% said they do so because they are hungry or thirsty, while one in four (25%) said snacks are a treat for them. If you are hungry, figure out the taste, texture, and temperature of the craving you are looking to satisfy before you eat. For example, you can ask yourself, “Am I in the mood for something sweet, salty, or savory? Crunchy or smooth? Hot or cold?” Homing in on your needs can prevent overeating foods that don’t quite hit the spot.

2. Check in with your hunger

Try using a hunger scale before, during, and after your snack. Before eating, take a moment to assess your hunger on a scale of one to ten. If one is “ravenous” and ten is “stuffed,” where are you now? If you’re not sure, try eating a small snack and checking in with your hunger until you’re feeling around a six, which is “satisfied.” If you’re closer to ravenous, it might be time for a larger snack or even a full meal. (For more information about tuning in to your hunger, check out our mindful eat-moji scale here.)

3. Take time to notice and appreciate your food

Once you’ve decided it’s time for a snack, make an effort to slow down the eating process. Even if it’s just a few moments or seconds, take time to notice the smell, taste, and texture of your food. Focus on savoring the sensations of each bite. And remember to pay attention to your physical hunger, fullness, and satisfaction cues as you eat so that you can respond accordingly—by eating more or concluding your snack.

4. Know the principles of smart snacking

A good rule of thumb to ensure your snack is nutritious, balanced, and satisfying is to build it with selections from more than one food group. This helps you feel fuller longer and provides your body with a variety of nutrients. The main food groups are grains, dairy, protein foods, and fruits and vegetables. Snacks that draw on multiple food groups might look like:

  • Whole-wheat crackers (grains) and cheese (dairy)
  • Unsweetened yogurt (protein) and blueberries (fruit)
  • Nuts (protein) and sliced cucumbers (vegetables)
  • Sliced avocado (fruit) and a hard-boiled egg (protein)

When it comes to snacking, trust the (mindfulness!) process. For more information on snacking and mindful eating, check out these resources: