Be a Stellar Snacker
GIFS are my favorite. Have I said that yet? Well, in case you didn't know, now you know.
Today is all about snacking! We all love another opportunity to eat. Especially when that lunch wears off, hunger and fatigue start to creep in, and your co-worker brought in those amazing chocolate chip cookies.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be on point. Protein, veggies, quality fats, unprocessed whole carbohydrate options... all the good stuff. But snacking... that's where we often fall off the wagon.
A common area of confusion is what people should do for snacks? With so many on-the-go, 100 calorie packs, and "healthy" advertised options, it feels like it can be a bit complicated.
The funny thing is it really can be SUPER simple!
One of our favorite mantras we like to go by here at CORE is "eat real food". What even is real food? Real food is something that once was alive or was grown naturally. Things laden with preservatives, added sugars, or processed to the point where you're not sure what the original form was, don't fall into this category. Those 100 calorie chips ahoy crisps don't make the cut.
So what can you do? How are you supposed to snack while at work or away from home? Its not like you can cook up a small snack in the break room (or can you?).
Back to the mantra: Eat REAL food. Vegetables, nuts, fruit, protein...
Options that are HIGH in nutrients (*ahem veggies*) are always a great starting point. Find a few go-to vegetables that you enjoy eating, cut them up at home (or at work) and boom, you're on your way to a fiber rich, high nutrient, low calorie snack. By including veggies outside of "normal meals" you are getting more of the micronutrients necessary for your body to function well!
Taking it a step further, consider adding in some protein. This can be already prepped meat you have on hand, hard-boiled eggs, nitrate-free sliced turkey or chicken, high quality jerky (avoid ones with lots of sugar and additives), etc. Protein temporarily raises your metabolism (thermic effect of food), helps you stay full, and is important for maintaining lean muscle mass.
Why not add in some fats! Fat helps you feel satiated after eating, provides energy, tastes good, helps with hormones, and much more. One recommendation on fats - be careful of eating a huge bag of nuts. Fats are higher in calorie than carbohydrates and protein and should be eaten in the right portion. Great options are nuts/seeds, nut butters, avocados.
Depending on your activity throughout the day, some quality carbohydrates such as fruit or whole, unprocessed grains can be added in for extra energy. Start with the recommendations above before deciding if carbohydrates are needed. Keep this to a palm-size portion (for girls) and 2 palms (for guys).
Do I even need snacks?
Maybe. Very definitive, I know...
A great way to determine if you need a snack is to listen to your body! Learn how to pay attention to real hunger cues (real, because boredom is not a good cue. This is coming from a bored eater). If its 3:00 PM, you ate lunch at 11:30 and you are starting to feel that deep gnawing in your stomach, a snack is probably beneficial. If its 1:30, you've hit that afternoon lull, and that co-worker's cookies sound amazing, you may not be hungry. Again, listen to your real hunger cues. We like to generally recommend 3-4 hours between meals or feedings. Everybody is different, so again, listening to your body is important (cant say that enough!).
If this seems super difficult or just unlikely because snacking on vegetables sound very unappealing, start slowly. Work on adding in one of the main 3 components listed above. Another option is to work on having 1 quality snack a week.
It doesn't have to be perfect from the get go. We've all grown up with habits and snacking is not an exception. You may need practice getting away from your old routine. If snack packs, chips and crackers, or candy bars are what you've always had, then it may take time to develop new habits. Begin with small steps and work up! Who knows, by the end you may become a stellar snacker!
Still unsure of how to apply this or just need some help along the way? Nutrition consultations and coaching can be a great start to developing the necessary habits for long-term wellness and healthy eating! Find out more here!