The Institute of Health’s Second Burden of Disease’s Study revealed quite a shocking finding recently in 2018. Malaysia was declared as Asia’s fattest country; we have the highest rate of obesity amongst the Asian population.

Malaysia, as we know it, is a haven for snacks and street food such as kuih-kuih (traditional Malay snacks), goreng pisang (banana fritters), apam balik (Malay pancakes) and many more. Snacking is part of our culture, be it in the day or night.

Well, snacking isn’t a crime after all, for you could always do it healthily and smartly. If you can’t avoid binge eating, having practiced this habit for years, be happy that you do not have to stop it completely. It could always be done in moderation and the healthy way, so you don’t end up just satisfying your cravings but also avoid the disadvantages from such habits.


1. Start all meals with water

This is probably the most important trick of all. Every time you’re feeling hungry, always drink a glass of plain water before you grab anything else. Sometimes, we might be just thirsty instead of hungry. Don’t get tricked! If you still feeling hungry after that, then go ahead and grab some food.

So remember, don’t let yourself go thirsty and keep your body well hydrated.

But it does not mean you have to skip meals by just relying on water. In fact, you shouldn’t wait too long between eating. Going on long stretches between meals without snacks could cause a dip in your blood sugar, thereby increasing your cravings that may in turn cause you to overindulge later when you see food.


2. Do not eat from the bag or container

Studies have shown that when you snack out of a box or packet, you are more likely to overindulge. Before you realize, you would have finished more than half or even the entire box.

Try to count and transfer the snack into individual portion and keep the bag or container away. Remember, do not eat straight from the container to prevent intake of excess calories.

For reference, you may look at this picture here, where we show you how to count and only eat the right portion of nuts that you need per serving. And just look at almonds, it takes up to 14 pieces to get in 100 calories. How healthy is that? Moreover, some studies have also shown that almonds could aid weight loss. So not only you’re having healthy snacks in the right amount, these snacks are also helping you to address your weight issues!


3. Always check on the food nutritional content

Now this is something many, if not most, Malaysians do not practice. We buy foodstuffs from supermarkets without even reading the nutritional charts.

Always check on the food nutritional content, make sure that the serving of food is within your daily calories quota.

Don’t always automatically pick the “light” snacks. Sometimes, light may not be what you need. And some other times, there is hardly any difference between the “light” over the originals to even justify why you should be spending more on the “light” version.

In fact, a lot of “light” snacks are only lighter in terms of salt or other additives. They are still fried at the end of the day, making you still open to risk of heart disease and others alike.


4. Take it slow

This is probably quite easy to practice. Sit down to meals with no other distractions, such as your mobile phones and TV. Focus on your food and eat slowly. Eating slow regulates portion control; this is because the satiety hormone will only be released 15-20 minutes after the first bite.

If it helps, put your healthy snacks within eyesight and hide the unhealthy ones. How do you do this? Start by putting colourful fruits in a basket or bowl on the dining table or counter. Every time you walk past, the image of it will register in your mind subconsciously, resulting in you picking the convenience of eating something that is just before your eyes over some hidden snacks from the kitchen cabinet.

Seems easy right?

This list of DOs and DON’Ts here isn’t exhaustive and would generally apply across all types of snacks, healthy snacks included.

There are a lot of different ways to snack healthily and smartly, most or all of which involve not giving in your mind’s tricks. In fact, according to a research conducted by University of California, San Francisco, Comprehensive Cancer Center, a lot of diet plans have been proven to simply gloss over the main part, that your mind-set plays a huge role in weight loss. You may blame it on the junk food or oily snacks all you want, but remember, it’s your mind that makes you think that eating more is going to solve your hunger woes and get through your emotional turmoil, or even apparently make you feel better. So the lesson is to do it right, do it in moderation, and do it the smarter way. Just don’t give in your mind’s twisted way of guilt tripping you for skipping your favourite bazaar snacks.