10 keys backed by science to not snack between meals and eat healthier

Who you are with, what you see or what you do influences whether you peck more or less. Science has proven it and has seen what strategies are most effective to avoid it.

You’re not hungry because your stomach isn’t growling, but you find yourself opening cupboards in the kitchen looking for a little treat. You start with some crackers and you don’t know how you end up destroying what you find. Does the situation ring a bell?

Well, since you are not the only one, different researchers have tried to unravel why we snack when we are bored, stressed, tired or simply have nothing better to do. And we tell you some of the conclusions they have reached so that you regain control.


Behavioral scientists have discovered that we are not able to determine what we eat based on internal signals from the body, and that external signals weigh more. In other words, it is easier for you to be aware that you have filled yourself with candy if you see the wrappers than if you wait for your stomach to tell you. Therefore, do not hide the wrappers of what you eat between meals; And if you go to a food buffet, don’t remove plates or bottles before reaching for others. Leave them in a heap to get a visual idea of ​​what you’ve already eaten.

Researchers at Cornell University (USA) tested students by offering them bowls of chicken wings while watching a game. At some tables, the remains were removed while they ate, and at other tables, they were left unremoved. The students who ate the fewest wings were those whose leftover food was not removed.


The more snack options you have at your fingertips, the more you will eat. Scientists have determined that you eat up to 23% more. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that if participants were offered a bowl of 43 different colored candies, they ate much more than the participants they were only offered 7 color varieties.

Ideally, it is your lunch or dinner that provides as much variety as you need (fruits and vegetables of many different colors), and not snacks. If you have snacks at home , try not to have too many and keep them out of sight , because another study showed that what we do not see does not tempt us as much as what we have in front of our eyes. According to this research, the secretaries participating in the test who were offered a transparent bowl with candies on the table ate 71% more of the same than the secretaries who put the candies in the drawer.


It has not been Spanish researchers but from the Technische Universität of Munich (Germany) who have verified that depending on the fat that was taken –butter, olive oil, lard or rapeseed oil–, it was chopped more or less between meals.

The result of the study was that olive oil was the one that caused the greatest satiety because it increased the concentration of serotonin and affected the absorption of glucose in the blood, delaying the onset of hunger. So use it to cook or dress your main meals.


According to a study by Dr. Brian Wansink, eating with another person can cause you to consume 35% more than if you do it alone; and doing it with a group of 7 or more people can raise the percentage to 96%!

The closer, the worse. According to specialists, this is easier to happen if you get together with family and friends. And it has an explanation, because it is when we put more whims on the table or ask the waiter, the more we talk while we eat and the less aware we end up being of what we put in our mouths.

How can you counter it? Becoming hermits is not an option, so you have to use all possible strategies. One is that if there is a lot of snacking within our reach and we do not want to refrain from taking something, we put everything that we are going to consume on a small plate, in order to be even visually aware of what we are going to take and in this way not to overdo it.

Being the most sociable… That is, those of us who talk the most and eat the least. It also works to be around people who eat less and talk more, or who eat more slowly and therefore less.


If you have already had dinner and, despite this, you return to explore the possibilities offered by your fridge, scientists recommend that you make a change in your habits , because many times what leads us to snack are mental associations that we may not be or conscious, such as getting up from the sofa to go for a snack while a series of commercials are on TV.

One of them is to close the kitchen once you have collected the things for dinner and put the dishwasher on . And brush your teeth before you sit down to watch TV, so you’re too lazy to do it again. If you need to reinforce this feeling of “having everything done”, put on your pajamas now, so that your mind associates it with getting ready to sleep and not with eating.

And when the ads arrive or what do you associate with snacking on what? Check that the door or windows are well closed, prepare the clothes for the next day… look for another habit with which to associate this moment and that is not food.


People who practice sports, in general, tend to take more care of what they eat, but it has been proven that there are disciplines that are more effective than others to combat emotional hunger, which leads us to snack. And according to a study published in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity , yoga would be one of these disciplines.

According to this study, practicing yoga daily helps lower the levels of cortisol in our body , the so-called “stress hormone”, which makes us less vulnerable to snacking to “cover” emotional gaps. In addition, it helps us to sleep better, to feel better in our body… a whole series of benefits that distance us from food as an “emotional solution”.

We don’t know if there is a study that confirms it or not, but if you don’t like sports and, instead, you love to dance, you can achieve a very similar effect, because you combine physical exercise with fun, and this also helps to lower your levels of stress And if you do it with friends, even better.


  • Music: When your mind takes you to visualize some chips or a chocolate bar, distract it by putting on your playlist of favorite songs. And if you start singing them, the temptation will be even further from your mouth.
  • Drink: It’s not just that sometimes we confuse hunger with thirst, it’s that sipping a warm tea without sugar also helps distract from the urge to snack. The ideal is to resort to drinks without sugar or caffeine.
  • Hobby: If boredom is what makes you want to snack, take up a hobby that distracts your mind (reading) or keeps your hands busy (crochet, painting…).
  • Breathe: Like food we also use it to calm our nerves, taking deep and rhythmic breaths to regain calm helps.


It was a bit of a drawer, but just in case, there is research that corroborates that moving around to treat ourselves makes us drink less than if we have it at our fingertips.

A study from the University of Illinois (USA) confirmed that the participants in the trial took 9 candies if the bowl was on their table; 6 if it was in the drawer of the table; and 4 if they had to walk to the bowl that was on another table. When the participants were interviewed and asked why they ate less if they had to walk for the candy, the answers were that by having to walk, they had more time to think about whether or not they wanted to eat that candy.

The ideal is not to have any kind of whim at home (no ice cream, no snacks, candies, sugary drinks…), and that every time we want to consume them, we have to move.


Some celery sticks may not be what you want instead of some chips, but there are other healthy and delicious options:

  • pistachios. Nuts are always a good option, but pistachios, being able to take a ration of 49 units and having shells, makes them more entertaining. And they do not need to be salted, just roasted they are already very tasty.
  • Popcorn. The homemade ones, made with little oil and less salt, are a perfect snack if you can’t go without eating anything while watching a movie.
  • Chocolate. Chocolate over 85% is a permissible temptation because it is very satiating and you have enough with a little.
  • Fruit shake. If you are lost for the sweet, prepare a smoothie with Greek yogurt, half a banana and strawberries. It will take away your desire enjoying!

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