Let’s talk about snacks for a moment. We all know that feeling around 10am, or maybe 3pm when your stomach is growling, you feel drained, and you still have hours until your next meal. Snacks, when done right, shouldn’t necessarily fill you up – but should be tasty and satisfying and hold you over until your next big meal.
Be honest – how many of you really take time to think about what goes into your snacks? We spend time thinking about our meals, but snacks for some reason get left up to a “whatever is around” mentality. There should be just as much thought put into what you eat between your meals as you put into your full meals! All the time and effort you put into meal planning won’t do anything for you if you are not also planning and prepping snacks.
So let’s take a look at ways we can find success in our snacks:
- Where are you going to be? Will you be in an office with a refrigerator available? Will you be in the car all day? Will you be home? Think about where you will be and base your snacks on that. You don’t want to bring a yogurt for an afternoon treat if you will be in a car for the next 5 hours with no way to refrigerate it.
- Prep your snacks, and portion appropriately. Do this at the beginning of the week – or even just the night before, prepare for success – don’t set yourself up to grab whatever is edible wherever you are when you are hungry.
- Mix it up! – snacking on the same thing every day can lead to boredom…which can lead to you make questionable choices in the moment. Have several options that rotate throughout the week. Carrots and hummus are great, but a little variety never killed anyone.
- Eat when you are hungry….WHAAATTT??? I know, it’s a crazy notion – I am always struggling with the “am I bored or am I hungry” debate – whether it is at work, when I’m catching up on my favorite show, or watching a movie…or even when I’m out having a drink. Make sure you are eating because your body needs food, and not just because you want something to do.
- Try not to snack WHILE you are doing something else (watching tv, staring at a computer, etc.). Pay attention to what you are eating. Sit down at a table. When we eat while we are doing something else – like working or watching TV, we bring food from a plate to our mouth without even looking at it or thinking about what we are doing and portion size goes out the window.
- Slow it down! It’s not a race, just because it is a snack doesn’t mean you swallow it whole or eat so fast you don’t even know what it tasted like. Pause for a second, or take a sip of water between bites. Just slooooooow it down!!
- Fiber is loaded with health benefits like aiding in weight loss, improved skin, lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, makes your bowel movements healthier and more regular (heehee poop), and more! Fiber also will help make you feel fuller, longer. Which, is great when we have a long day ahead of us and we need food that will keep those hunger feelings away for a long time.
- How much fiber do you need? Approximately 35g for women, and 48g for men. Don’t worry about hitting these numbers exactly, just keep an eye on what food you are eating, and at least try to be in close range.
Examples: berries, apples, pears, chick peas, chia seed, flax seed, beans, etc.
- We NEED protein to survive, and for our bodies to thrive and become stronger. We don’t store protein the same way as we do carbs & fats, so we need to continue to supply our body with enough to keep us going.
- Protein rich diets will help repair and rebuild our muscle tissue, hormones, and our immune system (all somewhat important things to, you know, life.)
- Along with fiber, protein rich food will help you feel fuller, longer – bonus!
Examples: Greek yogurt w/ granola, cottage cheese & fruit, cheese & apple slices, hummus & carrots, roasted chickpeas, jerky, edamame, protein bars (careful with this one…check out Pefect Bars, RxBars, Epic Bars, OatMega Bars – there are a lot of great ones out there, but look at the labels).
- The feeling of hunger is VERY similar to the symptoms dehydration – don’t mix them up! If you just ate an hour ago…chances are you don’t need more food, you just need a big glass of water.
- make sure to drink throughout the day – especially when you start to feel a bit sleepy or those feelings of hunger start to creep up on you – an average person should be drinking about 2L of water a day. If you are physically active at work, exercise often, are in heat or outside all day – that number will increase.
- To start drinking more water regularly, carry a water bottle with you – try to be consistent with drinking throughout the day.
- I hate the taste of plain water, what else can I drink? Examples: Lemon or other fruit in the bottle (I use an AquaFrut bottle – you can find them on amazon), unsweetened decaf green tea, flavored seltzer water
If you are in a pinch though, and need a snack when you are out…a good rule of thumb is to stick to whole, natural, unprocessed foods – fruits, veggies, nuts – you can get them just about anywhere! Happy Snacking!