snacking mistakes to avoid

5 Snacking Mistakes to Avoid for Maximum Weight Loss

July 18, 2022

Are you a snacker? According to 2020 data from FoodDive, 43% of consumers snacked to cope with boredom or frustration and 55% said they snacked for comfort. Does this sound familiar? Snacking is beneficial when nutrition-packed snacks are part of a daily plan to optimize your needs, such as energy, focus or alertness. On the flip side, snacking can add extra empty-calories meaning the food items are nutritional zeros when it comes to health benefits. This snacking then leads down a path away from weight loss and toward weight regain. What are the snacking mistakes to avoid so that you maximize weight loss and prevent weight regain?

Make these five strategies part of your daily eating plan:


Eat your protein foods first

Let this become your mantra. Long-term success after surgery and the health of your body depend on an adequate intake of protein today, tomorrow and each day down the track. One big reason to reach your protein intake each day is that protein supports metabolism. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism rate will be and the more calories your body will burn.

Aiming for 60-90 grams of protein per day will provide the amino acids to your muscle mass and the myriad of other body processes where protein plays a role, such as the formation of hormones, enzymes, and immune system antibodies. Remember, you are dividing this total amount of protein over the day. To help you plan, 60, 80 and 90 grams of protein are equal to 240, 320 and 360 calories out of your daily total of 1000-1200 calories or more depending on your personal variables. When you consume protein food sources first at every meal and snack, you’ll notice that you’re not as hungry and feel comfortably full on less food.  


Ditch the grazing

You know what I mean. Picking up food to munch on it just because. Because it’s a bad day, someone was a jerk at work, your favorite TV show is on, or some person made a rude remark that upset you. Unfortunately, in this world, these things probably won’t stop happening, so how you respond becomes much more important. What matters is you and your success. Period. The problem with grazing for all of us (or emotional eating, as I call it) is that we tend to feel even worse after we eat to cover our emotions. Plus, what do you typically graze on? Not lean chicken or tuna, but more likely chips or ice cream or some type of candy. How about the portion size? When you graze, what typically happens? Do you reach for a bag or container of whatever you want and portion size isn’t a concern? The item of choice is to fill a need that usually doesn’t have anything to do with hunger. Head hunger, yes, not sustenance. Finding another outlet that doesn’t involve food is critical. Read a book, take a shower, walk, call a friend, just don’t graze or emotionally eat. It leads you nowhere you want to go.

TIP: If you know emotional issues are behind your grazing, consider a mental health counselor who can help you work through it so the issue doesn’t rule your life and diet.


Become aware of how much and when you eat

Get a good estimate of the number of calories you consume each day and when. How to do this? I love using an app on my phone/online or both whichever is easier for you. There are many to choose from but two of my favorites are Lose It! and My Fitness Pal. Ok, so you're thinking, really, what a pain in the patootie. Once you start (if you’re honest with yourself), a food record kept for a week or two, ongoing if you want, is a real eye-opener. The caveat here is being honest with yourself. We have a tendency to log what we feel good about and skip over what we don’t. Log what you really eat and how much. To make lasting lifestyle tweaks, you want to see patterns. For example, do you snack at night most every night in front of the TV? Do you eat when you’re stressed? Do you reach for goodies when you’re upset? If you log what you eat along with what’s going on when you eat it, you’ll start to see trends. These trends are the key to your journey and behavior changes. Why does this matter? Finding your patterns and then working to make behavior changes will help prevent that dreaded weight regain that you hear about and hate.

TIP: A food record kept for a week or two, ongoing if you want, is a real eye-opener.


Pay attention to portion sizes

When you start a food log, you look at what you eat, how you feel when you eat it, and how much you eat. This is where mindfulness or mindful eating comes into play. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve likely been eating a certain way for a long time. One small step at a time over time becomes a new behavior or lifestyle for you. Don’t expect perfection or you’ll set yourself up for failure, as you’ll feel like you can never do this. You can do it. It takes time, and that’s OK. It took time to get where you are and this is the beginning of a new journey, not an overnight unrealistic success story.


Choose smart carbs

The total grams of carbohydrates per day should average 90-130 depending on how far out from surgery you are and what your dietitian suggests. Often at six months out, the carb suggestion will be around 90 grams a day, working up to 130 grams over one year. However, this can vary with the surgery, so a carb discussion with your dietitian is one to put on your list. Smart carbs mean vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and lentils that contain fiber and are referred to as complex carbs versus refined or empty-calorie carbs that we mentioned above in grazing. You know the ones, the snacks we tend to reach for under stress.

TIP: Smart carbs mean vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and lentils that contain fiber and are referred to as complex carbs.

You’ve got this. Decide which strategies will work best for you and put them into action. Why? Personal accountability works and leads to the success you desire.

Registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success.

snacking mistakes to avoid
Susan Mitchell


Bariatric dietitian Dr. Susan Mitchell is host of the podcast Bariatric Surgery Success. Selected as one of the Best 35 Dietitian Podcasts, Bariatric Surgery Success was chosen from thousands of podcasts on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority & freshness. Dr. Susan helps you conquer cravings, emotional eating and weight regain after bariatric surgery with a focus on your nutrition and health, journey and success. Read more articles by Susan!