How can I avoid eating between meals on a weight loss diet?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Make sure you are full after each meal, feeling full turns off your brain's hunger signals. Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. Often times people confuse thirst with hunger. If you have time, exercise before meals. Eating fresh veggies and nuts between meals will not derail your weight loss as long as you stick to reasonable portions.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you are struggling with eating between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can try eating 6 small meals throughout the day. This will also help your metabolism burning calories. If you want to stick with only 3 meals a day, when your mind wonders to think about food, drink a glass of water or go for a walk. Speak to a Registered Dietitian for an adequate plan.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Snacking can be a downfall to many people who are trying to lose weight. They may not even be hungry, but feel like nibbling. To keep your mouth busy try chewing gum or drink a sparkling water. The bubbes may fill you up. Keeping a food journal is another way to realize that if you ate two hours ago then maybe you really aren't hungry.
Although snacking is sometimes thought of as a bad habit, it can be a helpful strategy as long as you don't end up overdoing it. Snacking can help you curb your hunger and prevent subsequent overeating.

Some snacks are better than others, of course; give your snacks some nutritional smarts by combining whole grains with protein and/or fruits or veggies for increased satisfaction. And it's normally wise to avoid hard-to-control snacks. Replace them with foods you can manage more easily.

Weight Watchers offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss that can help you reach your goals.
Wendy Batts
Well for starters, don’t even try! Eating throughout the day is a great strategy for weight loss provided you haven’t put yourself in a caloric surplus (where you’ve eaten more calories than you’ve burned) in a 24 hour period. Three sensible meals in addition to 1-3 sensible snacks per day is a great way to lose weight.
The incorporation of increased activity with cardiorespiratory exercise and resistance training along with a sensible reduced calorie diet are the nuts and bolts of weight loss. Controlling hunger and keeping up energy levels are huge parts of that. Sensible snacking and eating throughout the day can help you control hunger, which means you’ll be less likely to binge or overeat. It can also help you maintain your energy levels, which will keep you more active and therefore burning more calories. Find snacks that are satisfying, low calorie and healthy and include them throughout your day. You may just find that they help you take the pounds off.

To improve energy and lose weight, I suggest you plan your meals ahead of time and eat 5-6 meals a day. When I say meals that means 3 healthy portion controlled meals and 3 snacks. Snacks are half the portion of meals or less. As you fuel your body correctly, you will have increased energy and not be tempted to eat unhealthy snacks and drink plenty of water throughout the day. For people on the go, pack a small cooler of vegetables, meals or individual snacks so you have healthy alternatives during the day. A day’s example:

1. Eggs and toast

2. Fruit and a small portion of nuts

3. Lunch-Salad with protein

4. Cottage cheese and a small fruit

5. Lean protein, vegetable and a starch

6. Fresh vegetables and hummus

Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
You can avoid eating between meals during weight loss by managing your hunger and removing or avoiding tempting food from your surroundings. You can manage your hunger by eating regular, balanced meals that help you feel full and satisfied. Eating every 3-4 hours is a good guideline. Be sure to start your day with a fiber and protein-rich breakfast to prevent over-eating later in the day. Good choices include whole grain breakfast cereal with at least 6 grams of fiber per serving, oatmeal with fresh berries and a few nuts, a veggie omelet and a high-fiber meal replacement shake.  A balanced lunch and dinner has a whole grain (brown rice or whole wheat pasta), lean protein (fish, skinless poultry, beans and tofu) and fresh fruits and veggies. It’s equally important to keep food out of your immediate surroundings.  Studies show people eat more when food is within their eyesight and their reach.
It’s interesting that when most of us decide to lose weight, we immediately stop eating. Researchers now know that the best way to maintain a normal weight is to stop dieting, and eat more frequently with smaller meals.

Dieting, as we’ve done it previously, greatly restricts calories and nutritious foods causing you to feel deprived and resulting in rebound binging or overeating. Eating healthful foods more frequently will boost your metabolism and productivity. Research has found that people who eat two meals or less during the day have a slower metabolic rate (the speed at which your body burns calories, and the rate that we all want to go faster) versus those who eat three or more times a day. Eating frequently will also keep your blood glucose constant, which helps you to not feel irritable or overly hungry. In addition, here is another bonus: when you eat frequently, there is an increase in your metabolic rate. A faster metabolism helps to burn calories and boosts weight loss.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.