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Curbing Kitchen Grazing

Curb Your Kitchen cravings and lose that extra weight your waist is hanging on to. Registered Dietician Trish Brimhall says randomly munching on goodies can add up fast and ultimately lead to a life of obesity.

1. Kitchen grazing starts at the store.

When it comes to healthy nutrition for your family, the grocery store is where it all starts. If it isn't in your home, you won't eat it. So when you make your grocery list, do so with your family's tastes, preferences, and health in mind. For example instead of buying bags of chips, try lightly salted nuts, or whole grain crackers. If sweets are a big snack craving, buy ripe fruits, yogurts, or small, individually-wrapped chocolates. But none of this will make any difference if you don't stick to your list. Resist the urge to impulse buy at the grocery store.

2. Plan ahead snack times and portions.

We've all heard the saying, "you don't plan to fail, you fail to plan". This definitely applies to nutrition. Oreos are quick and easy to grab, requiring no preparation or clean-up. So take a few minutes when you get home from the store to individually bag up the crackers, or nuts, or chips. Ten minutes of washing, cutting and bagging fresh veggies will provide healthful snacks for a week. Also, think about having some dried fruits or dry cereal in your car for those crazy schedule days when you are tempted to just hit the drive-thru.

When you have a snack attack, think carefully about what you are really craving. Satisfying that specific craving will save you eating through multiple servings of other foods as you search for true satisfaction.

3. Use snacks to pack in fruits and veggies.

Most of us fall short of eating 9 servings of fruits and veggies each day. In order to reach that nutrition goal, make it a habit to eat fruits and vegetables as your snacks. But don't burn yourself out on plain, old carrot sticks everyday. Try dipping your veggies in salsa or greek yogurt. Add a little heat to your apple with some lime juice, salt and hot chili. Or make a fruit salsa to nosh on throughout the week by adding lime and chipotle powder to chopped up fruit. Spoon it into a waffle cone for a fun, hand-held snack. Try drying your own fruits such as pineapple rings or grapefruit slices.

4. Curb cravings while cooking.

Cooking can be a very tempting time to snack as we are naturally hungry prior to a meal and we are surrounded by the sights and smell of delicious food. Beware of the extra snacking that can happen with over sampling as you cook. Brushing your teeth or chewing gum while cooking helps keep extra tidbits out of your mouth as you cook. Also, keep a big glass of ice water handy so when you get the yen to nibble, you can reach for the water instead. Also, when tasting sauces, gravies, or creamy soups, try using a butter knife instead of a spoon. A spoonful of gravy or sauce contains 10-20 calories, whereas with a butter knife, you'll only be getting 1-2 calories. That can end up saving you 50-100 calories just before dinner!

5. Keep only the healthy things visual.

Marketing relies heavily on visual cues to spark our interest, appetites and ultimately our spending. What are you marketing in your own kitchen? Is the cookie jar on the counter? Try placing it in the cupboard and replacing it with a bowl of fresh fruit. Is the first thing you see in the pantry cookies and candy? Place them behind the nuts, dried fruit and cereal. Swap out your candy dish for a bowl of pistachios or almonds. Place fruits and veggies in clear, visible containers, front and center in your refrigerator. If you see it, you're more likely to want to eat it.

6. Kitchen hours.

Keep in mind that a kitchen doesn't need to be open 24/7. It is ok to close the kitchen between meals and snacks. Feeling hunger is normal and we should feel hungry multiple times a day. Diets teach us to fear hunger, but don't buy into the notion that food is more powerful than you. Make it a family rule to only eat in 2 rooms of the house. There is no need to eat in every recreational or personal room of the house.

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