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Are These Snacking Habits Sabotaging Your Diet?

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Here are simple solutions to common snacking mistakes.

Are you a bona fide snack lover? Someone with a desk drawer of snacks at work, a piece of fruit in your bag and a bag of almonds in your car? Smart snacking—choosing healthy foods in portions of 200 calories or less if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight—can keep hunger at bay and add important nutrients to your diet.

But poor snacking habits may result in overeating and weight gain. Americans now consume on average more than two snacks a day, and a recent study found that snacking may make up one-fourth of our daily calories. Here are four easy solutions to common snacking mistakes:

Snack Mistake: You nosh on empty calories.

Chips, candies and cookies are devoid of nutrients, don’t fill you up and may have you reaching for more food sooner than you’d hoped.

Healthy Snack Solution: Choose snacks that pair protein with carbohydrates, such as almonds with an orange, or roasted chickpeas, which are a good natural mix of carbs and protein. Chickpeas are also high in fiber, which research suggests may help prevent weight gain and even may help you lose weight. Carbs and protein are a good pairing because carbohydrates provide your body and brain with energy, and protein-rich foods keep you feeling full longer because they break down more slowly in the body.

Snack Mistake: You eat a morning snack.

A 2011 Journal of the American Dietetic Association study found that dieters who didn’t snack between breakfast and lunch lost nearly 5 percent more weight (an average of 7.5 more pounds) over a year than morning snackers did. Since breakfast and lunch can be only a few hours apart, researchers suspect that most a.m. snacks are fueled out of habit rather than hunger—and generally amount to mindless eating.

Healthy Snack Solution: Forgo the morning snack, unless you have to go more than four hours until lunch.

Snack Mistake: You skip snacks altogether.

If you go too long between meals, you might be more prone to feast on high-calorie foods when you do eat, says a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Participants looked at pictures of low-cal and high-cal foods two to four hours after eating lunch and had their brains scanned. Researchers found that participants were much more interested in the high-cal foods when their blood sugar levels were low (in other words, when participants were hungry) versus when levels were normal.

Healthy Snack Solution: Satisfy afternoon hunger—and avoid tempting-but-less-healthy options—by planning ahead.

Snack Mistake: You deprive yourself of treats.

A small indulgence may be the secret to losing weight—and keeping it off for good. Savoring a tiny treat each day won’t sabotage your weight-loss efforts, says research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Healthy Snack Solution: Make room for a daily treat in your diet. If you crave salty snacks, like pita chips, popcorn or cheese and crackers, it’s OK to indulge in the occasional small portion. Got a sweet tooth? Go for a delicious low-calorie chocolate treat after dinner.

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BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR is an FDA-approved prescription weight-loss medication that, when used with diet and exercise, can help some adults (body mass index [BMI] 27 kg/m2) living with extra weight, with a weight-related medical problem, or adults living with obesity (BMI 30 kg/m2), lose weight and keep it off. It is not known if BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight-loss products is safe and effective. It is not known if BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR changes your risk of heart problems, stroke, or death due to heart problems or stroke.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR BELVIQ®/BELVIQ XR®:

  • Pregnancy: Do not take if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as weight loss offers no benefit during pregnancy and BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may harm your unborn baby.
  • Hypersensitivity reactions: Do not take if you are allergic to lorcaserin or any of the ingredients in BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR.
  • Serotonin Syndrome or Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)–like reactions: Before using, tell your Healthcare Provider about all the medicines you take, especially medicines that treat depression, migraines, mental problems, or the common cold. These medicines may cause serious or life-threatening side effects if taken with BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR. Call your Healthcare Provider right away if you experience agitation, hallucinations, confusion, or other changes in mental status; coordination problems; uncontrolled muscle spasms; muscle twitching; restlessness; racing or fast heartbeat; high or low blood pressure; sweating; fever; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; or stiff muscles.
  • Valvular heart disease: Some people taking medicines like BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR have had heart valve problems. Call your Healthcare Provider right away if you experience trouble breathing; swelling of the arms, legs, ankles, or feet; dizziness, fatigue, or weakness that will not go away; or fast or irregular heartbeat. Before taking BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR, tell your Healthcare Provider if you have or have had heart problems.
  • Changes in attention or memory: BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may slow your thinking. You should not drive a car or operate heavy equipment until you know how BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR affects you.
  • Mental problems: Taking too much BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may cause hallucinations, a feeling of being high or in a very good mood, or feelings of standing outside your body.
  • Depression or thoughts of suicide: Call your Healthcare Provider right away if you notice any mental changes, especially sudden changes in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings, or if you have depression or thoughts of suicide.
  • Low blood sugar: Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people taking medicines for type 2 diabetes, such as insulin or sulfonylureas. Blood sugar levels should be checked before and while taking BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR. Changes to diabetes medication may be needed if low blood sugar develops.
  • Painful erections: If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on, stop taking BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR and call your Healthcare Provider or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
  • Slow heartbeat: BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may cause your heart to beat slower.
  • Decreases in blood cell count: BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may cause your red and white blood cell counts to decrease.
  • Increase in prolactin: BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR may increase the amount of a hormone called prolactin. Tell your Healthcare Provider if your breasts begin to make milk or a milky fluid, or if you are a male and your breasts increase in size.
  • Most common side effects of BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR: Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, cough, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in patients with diabetes, and back pain.
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  • Drug interactions: Before taking BELVIQ/BELVIQ XR, tell your Healthcare Provider if you take medicines for depression, migraines, or other medical conditions, such as: triptans; medicines used to treat mood, anxiety, psychotic or thought disorders, including tricyclics, lithium, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or antipsychotics; cabergoline; linezolid (an antibiotic); tramadol; dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter [OTC] common cold/cough medicine); OTC supplements such as tryptophan or St. John’s Wort; or erectile dysfunction medicines.

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