It hits me around 10:36am + 3:39pm. I look up from my screen or my eyes glaze over when I am talking with a client. A snack. Something. Anything. If I am not prepared I will usually end up dreaming of things my body thinks it needs: chocolate, crisps, doughnuts, highly fatty, salty, sugary + sweet things. Is snacking okay? Well firstly, even if it wasn’t, we would do it ANYWAY right?! So here are a few snippets of advice regarding snacking and how to do it so that it enhances, not depletes or overloads, your body.
WHY WE SNACK Our bodies are actually very well created to regulate and tell us when we are hungry and also tell us when we can stop because we are full. The brain reads the changes in levels of hormones and also nutrient levels in the blood. However, things that get in the way of eating what we actually need are habits, cravings, emotions, visuals (doughnuts are so shiny), stress, anxiety + convenience. I bet you nodded to each of these. Most of us need a bit of a snack between our general three meals and this may not be a problem. Snacking is useful. Actually, it can be great if it adds to nutrients into our body, stabilises our blood sugar levels and keeps us focused. It can control appetite, increase your metabolism + control body weight (NOTE: if it’s wholesome).
If you are getting hungry and let it continue “hanger” (or “starvaguing” as I like to say) decision making surrounding food might be compromised + the temptation to grab anything highly salted/sweetened is much higher. Snacking is less useful if it’s fuelling our cravings or filling our sedentary desk job bodies with unneeded sugar, fat or additives galore. These kinds of snacks spike your blood sugar + often bring the blood sugar plummeting down again afterwards, leaving you wanting more very soon. They also pack a lot of energy into your body. If you are not moving, then all that extra energy gets stored, aka FAT (not beating around the bush am I?).
WHOLESOME FOOD VS JUNK FOOD Simply this: If you want your body to run well, work awesome for you and give you energy – why would you put junk in it? Junk means “articles that are considered useless or of little value”. Maybe it is time start putting some things of value into our bodies. Don’t you agree?
CHOICES TO MAKE, PLANS TO CREATE The honest truth is that we choose those high fat/sugar/salt options because we know they taste nice and will make us feel good for 10, 20 or even 30 minutes. We justify it because we are busy, stressed and think there is no time for a ‘better’ option. It takes time to get it right when it comes to training yourself to FUEL so you can keep going, have energy + focus. But I believe the benefits will influence your vitality, mood, performance and weight.
COMBINING Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrate and protein. We need ALL of these in various quantities for optimal body function and weight. Carbohydrates give us energy, proteins satiate us + build us, fats help with cravings + decrease hunger. They work better as a team. You may notice that if you grab for an apple, you’re quite hungry 30 minutes later. Combining an apple (a great carbohydrate) with a small handful of nuts or in a bowl of good yoghurt will sustain you much longer. Not only as it is more food but the fat + protein of the yoghurt layered with the carbohydrate of the apple help to satiate your appetite, give energy balance your blood sugar levels + can stop cravings. You also get a better nutrient density in a variety of macronutrients.
I could eat chocolate all day every day, but I don’t crave it when I plan my meals + snacks well. When I am ill-planned or figure ‘I’ll just wait until dinner’, that is when I have no guilty conscience in slamming a chocolate bar (ahem, block)… Until after that is. Then everyone around hears my whining of how unhealthy + guilty I feel. Honestly. When will we learn? Junk is junk. Our bodies run well with REAL FOOD. They are designed to consume REAL FOOD. Our bodies malfunction with excess and processed junk. The essential key to being able to snack well is PLANNING! Yep, boring and not trendy. I might be speaking for myself, but I rarely make a wise food choice when I’m busy, stressed + on the run. However, if I planned my food prior, I’m awesome! It takes the pressure off me. Take the pressure off yourself + have a look at the following suggestions:
Delicious snacks that are easily transportable.
1. Fresh pear/apple sliced with a few teaspoons of your favourite nut butter + why not sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa on top? (Carbohydrate + Protein + Fat).
2. Edamame beans, steamed with a sprinkle of salt or chilli. Can buy these powerful vegetarian protein plants frozen in most supermarkets (Protein + Trace Minerals).
3. Persimmons, kiwifruit + citrus are all in season (Carbohydrate, Fibre and Vitamin C). Grab 1-2 + 1 small handful of MIXED nuts – you get a greater variety of trace vitamins + minerals. Nuts are fabulous but you don’t need cupfuls. High good fat is still high fat. I would say a small handful is around 15 nuts.
4. Bowl mixed berries or cherries with a tsp of cocoa + a big glob of yoghurt is a perfect dessert.
5. Homemade rice paper rolls: fill ’em up with veggies, herbs, tofu or a favourite protein + a small pinch of noodles. Make a whole batch + they last in the fridge for a few days.
6. When you just need to stuff lots of savoury bites into your mouth but know buying crisps won’t make you feel awesome, why not make popcorn? Cheap + simple to do at home and stores well for days in a sealed container. I add 1 splash of sesame oil, a sprinkle of paprika, chilli, cumin + coriander. A few cups worth in my work bag are perfection when I need a moreish kick. And it’s a health-filled whole grain, instead of a trans fat-filled chippie.
7. Grab a jar, put 2 spoonfuls of hummus, a sprinkle of sesame seeds + pre-cut veggie sticks sticking out. Twist the lid and off you go.
8. “Cup of Soup” not from Continentals but if you’ve made a pumpkin soup or veggie broth – why don’t you take thermos to work or reheat at 3pm? Much tastier than hot salty powdered mixes.
9. If you have access to a blender or Nutri-Bullet: 1 handful of spinach, ½ banana, some coconut water, ice + 1 small spoon of your choice of seeds is a beautiful smoothie option without excessive sugars (Iron, Potassium, Fibre, Fat and Totally Delicious).
10. An easy one for work: crack 2 eggs into a mug + microwave with some chilli + a few spinach leaves for a protein hit. So easy, cheap + tastes fab.
11. If you want my recipe for peanut butter truffles – contact me. Sweet salty kick.
12. Try a milk-based hot drink from spices, cocoa or turmeric. Comforting + warming.
For more information, snack ideas or recipes: please contact Bess at Tailored Nutrition.