How to Stop Snacking Between Meals

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If you’re trying to cut back on your snacking, take a moment to consider that nearly 94% of Americans snack at least once a day.[1] It can be difficult to cut back on snacks when it is such a prevalent part of a culture, but once you take measures to change your habits, you might find it’s not as difficult as you thought.


EditEating Well at Meals

  1. Eat three, well-rounded meals a day. Meals that have a variety of nutrients are more likely to satisfy the cravings your body has. It is very important to make sure your meals are balanced, so that you ensure you do not have cravings for snacks.
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    • Make sure to consume quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates at lunch, not foods like fast food. These can help carry you hunger-free throughout the day.
    • Try to include foods like avocado. Avocados have been shown to help people feel full longer. Research has shown that people who eat an avocado during their lunch reported feeling nearly 25% more satiated after their meal.[2]
  2. Be sure to eat breakfast. Breakfasts that are high in protein were not only observed to increase satiety in the morning, they also helped people to feel more full in the evening. Try to eat at least 35 grams of protein with breakfast, in order to help you feel more full throughout the day.[3] Some ways you might work protein into your breakfast:
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    • Include an egg.
    • Start your day with yogurt.
    • Have a protein shake.
  3. Eat dinner later, and center your meals around foods like rice and beans, and meat. It is very important to time your dinner well, so that you have time to digest the food, but don’t end up hungry before you go to bed.
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    • Eat soup.
    • Bulk up with a salad.
    • Add some soy. A compound in soy has been found to suppress the appetite. This can help to control your cravings.[4]
  4. Eat high-protein diets to help you feel full longer. Protein takes more time to digest. This can help your meal to last in your stomach.[5] Check the labels on your food when comparing items in the grocery store. This will allow you to select foods to stave off hunger.
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  5. Try eating healthy foods that are extremely satiating. Foods that are high in fiber may enhance satiety.[6] These are foods that help you to feel full, such as oatmeal, grapefruit, or popcorn. They can help prevent cravings in between meals.
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  6. Choose fats that are better for your body. Such fats as those from nuts and olives can help you to feel full longer. Avoid saturated fats, as they can increase your desire to snack.[7] Many junk food items are high in saturated fats, and they contribute to a vicious cycle of craving.
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    • Fats have more calories per gram than any other macronutrient. That being said, they help sustain you and improve satiety greatly.
  7. Make your meals longer. Take your time to chew your food to help ease digestion. It can also give your body time to let you know that you are full. Research indicates that people who chew more slowly feel less hungry.[8]
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EditKeeping a Food Journal

  1. Keep a food journal.[9] Write down everything you eat each day. This will help you to gain perspective on your food intake, enabling you to make a plan to change it. Taking time to and think about when, how, and what you eat can be key to controlling how you consume. Mindless eating can be a huge part of snacking and unhealthy eating habits.
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    • Get a notebook.
    • Record where, when, what, and, honestly, how much you eat.
    • Note how you feel.
  2. Write down your definition of “a snack”. Research shows that what a consumer defines as a snack plays a marked role inhibiting conceptualization the behavior.[10] If you don’t understand it, it becomes a lot harder to fix. Draw your boundaries. Define what you feel makes a snack.
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  3. Plan out exactly when you will eat. Specific times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with at least three to four hours in between each time you eat. Creating this schedule for your dining experiences can help you to plan around when you get hungry. Use your food journal to figure the best times for you to eat.
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    • This is crucial, especially when starting out, to ensure that you have your meals planned out and spaced apart so that you are not left with extra food to eat at the end of the day, or worse, no food at all.
  4. Analyze your food journal.[11] Find out when you eat most, and then, more importantly, what are you picking up for a snack in between meals. This way you can pinpoint your targets. Few things can beat a well-thought out strategy.
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    • Watch for patterns.
    • Check for variety.
    • Be positive. This is how you support yourself.
  5. Cut out one thing at a time. You don’t have to stop snacking altogether. Even if that is your eventual goal, starting small can provide goals that are easier to achieve. Think of it as a series of little battles, not an overwhelming war.
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    • Start slow to help ease into your new habit.
    • Try eating half your snack, at first.
    • Skip eating the snack entirely for one day, and then do the same the following day. After seven days, you might begin to realize you really didn’t really need to eat it. The next week, pick another food to eliminate between meals.

EditDeveloping Habits to Stop Snacking

  1. Chew gum. Gum can help you to feel like you’re eating. It can also help you to overcome an oral fixation. The flavor combined with occupying your mouth can help curb your desire to eat. Look for sugar-free gum, if you’re watching calories.
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  2. Drink coffee or tea. Caffeine can not only help get a boost of energy when you are feeling sluggish, but it is also an appetite suppressant. When you feel a craving for a snack, try having a cup of coffee or tea instead. It will give you a little boost, and can help to carry you to your next meal.
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  3. Get some exercise. Not only is exercise good for your body, it helps to reduce cravings for snack food. Both moderate and vigorous exercise lasting fifteen minutes have been found to help reduce snacking.[12] Think of all the fun ways you can reduce your desire to snack. Plus, if you give in to a craving, having burned off all those calories can help you not to feel as bad.
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    • Play an active sport.
    • Find a local gym.
    • Sign up for martial arts or yoga classes.
    • Go dancing.
    • Do something that occupies your hands.
  4. Get some sleep. Especially late at night, sometimes the best way to avoid seeking out that late-night snack is just to go to sleep. Naps are also a great way to avoid suddenly finding yourself elbow-deep in a bag of chips.
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  5. Drink water whenever you have an urge to snack. Water can help you feel full, eliminate false hunger, has no calories or guilt. This can help you gain self-control, improve your skin, and better your health overall.[13] Water is especially important if you’re eating a high-protein diet to curb hunger, because it is an essential part of its digestion. If you also getting more exercise, and drinking more coffee to help stop snacking, you’ll need it to avoid dehydration.
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    • Carry a water bottle.
    • Make sure to drink a glass of water, or two, at a restaurant.
    • Try sparkling water.
  6. Seek out the disgusting. Smelling something you find repulsive can kill your appetite. When you find yourself craving a snack, take a big whiff of garbage or vinegar. Cleaning the litter box or the toilet is not likely to leave you salivating.
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  7. Wear a rubber a band around your wrist. Snap it when you have a craving. This helps develop an association between the negative sensation and the desire to snack. After building up this association over a long time, it can help you to control your desire to have a snack.
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  8. Imagine you ate. There are a number of new diets that involve imagining away your cravings. [14] Related to the reasons that your tenth piece of chocolate is not as satisfying as your first, it is possible to imagine you already ate nine pieces and reduce your desire overall. Try imagining that you already ate your snack, in fact, you just ate the whole box.[15]
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    • This may, at first, cause you to salivate (the “whetting effect”), but soon habituation will kick in, and you won’t feel like eating as much of your snack as you did initially. You may not feel like snacking at all.[16]
    • For this to work, you must imagine yourself eating the exact food you are trying to avoid, and in a large quantity.[17]
  9. Occupy yourself. It can be easy to forget you’re hungry when you’re busy doing something challenging and/or enjoyable. Try picking up a hobby, or doing something productive. Switch out your bad habits for good, new ones. This can be a great way to control unhealthy eating habits.[18]
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    • Clean the house.
    • Call a friend.
    • Go for a walk.
  10. Get hypnotized. Hypnotizing yourself, or getting hypnotized by a professional, can be an effective way to manage behaviors you wish to change. Research shows that hypnosis can provide significant benefit for those trying to reduce unhealthy eating habits.[19] Find a hypnotherapist in your area, or look for a weight-loss hypnosis CD online.
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  11. Ask friend to help sponsor your habits. Choose someone you know will be there for you when you are unsure you can succeed. When you feel a craving, give them a call and let them talk you out of it. You can even share a meal together, and all the talking you do will help you to eat your meal more slowly, leaving you feeling more full.
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  • Never snack while watching T.V. This inhibits food intake recall; you won’t remember how much you ate, and you’ll keep snacking.[20].
  • Avoid things that trigger your desire to snack.
  • Brush your teeth earlier than usual, to help curb your desire to snack in the evening.


  • Consult your doctor before starting to make major changes to your diet, in case you are required to eat in between meals for medical reasons.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Avoid Eating When You’re Bored
  • Eat Properly
  • Choose Healthy Snacks

EditSources and Citations

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