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7-Day Snack Elimination Challenge

Americans are snack-obsessed, and while it’s true that a nibble between meals can help keep energy high, those extra calories could make or break your fat-loss goals. In fact, if you snack frequently, it could add up to the equivalent of a full meal!

Since the average time for food to move from the stomach to the small intestine is three to four hours, experts recommend giving your digestive system a break of at least this duration between meals. Over time, they say, this can help shift your hormonal balance and thought patterns, and can help reduce your habit of constantly reaching for food. Also, you should arrive at the table in a state of hunger (not starvation) in order to reach your weight-loss goals.

If you’re not accustomed to feeling a little empty, this might be uncomfortable at first, but the point of this challenge is to learn that being hungry is not a bad thing and that by simply adjusting your mealtimes a little, you can make over-snacking unnecessary and will better be able to change your habits and eliminate your cravings.

So for one week, challenge yourself to go without any snacks and instead focus on eating three well-rounded meals per day by using the “plate method”: Fill half your plate with vegetables, a quarter with lean protein and a quarter with a grain or starchy vegetable. And don’t forget about your healthy fats: Use extra-virgin olive oil when cooking your food, or add some avocado or nuts to round out your meal. Also, remember to drink plenty of water — sometimes the body interprets thirst as hunger — and if you are overly hungry and peckish, prevent an errant trip to the vending machine by eating a small piece of fruit, a hard-boiled egg or ¼ cup of nuts.

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