Trying to figure out how many snacks I can stuff in my mouth to satisfy my hunger – while staying within a 1,550 calorie limit for the day – felt like an insurmountable objective at first when I decided I needed to lose major weight.

Edamame beans make a great snack to shut down hunger pangs!

Why 1,550? According to Real Appeal, the weight loss program I participated in as part of my company’s healthcare package, this was one of two options for long-term weight loss and management. The other option – 1,250 for speedier results – was, well, fuggetabaoutit. Especially considering I was walking farther and faster plus other workout routines. I knew I would just be starving myself and I needed those snacks!

It would be particularly difficult during the morning not to snack away three quarters of my calories before lunch – I would get up at 4:45 a.m. to work out by 5, returning home by 6:45 a.m. to a 300-calorie smoothie. More often than not that smoothie would last me until the work snack witching hour – 10 a.m. – where I would start rooting through the fridge of my home-based office for meaningful, fulfilling sustenance. Would it be carrots and hummus? Edamame beans? Nuts and jerky? How about a hard-boiled egg (or three)? Pickles and olives? Or….a cookie? Caramel popcorn? Maybe a mixture of all of it?

Hummus is one of my favorite snacks to squash hunger!

Whatever it was going to be, it needed to tie me over until it was officially lunchtime. Over time, as my husband saw how serious I was, he started searching for small calorie snack packs, loaded up on snackable veggies and fresh, protein-rich dips, yogurt and fruit (which would last about as much as a day or two, before my insatiable seven-year-old son with a bottomless pit for a stomach got a hold of it. I’d nosh, and then find and record it on my food tracker app.

Half an avocado topped with couscous, grilled chicken and charred corn, the perfect avocado bowl for snacks or dinner!

Over time I got really good at determining what foods would truly fill me up, and give me energy to power through the rest of the day. For lunch, I tended to gravitate toward anything in a bowl or tortilla, with the right mix of veggies, grains and protein. This avocado, feta, couscous, and chicken bowl was one lunch mainstay – it was easy to put together, and I can load as much Sriracha on it as I wanted

The best advice I can give in this area is to experiment, listen to your body’s reaction to certain foods,, and know that if you want a glass of wine at the end of the day, you’re going to have to adjust the resulting calorie intake earlier in the day. Don’t cheat and not include the snack in the app – it’s not worth it, obviously. And large glasses of water are both necessary and your friend in healthy fullness.

Bon Appetit!