Is your snacking keeping you from reaching your goals? Snacks can make or break your fitness program, but they don’t have to. It depends on what type of snacks you are eating and if you are eating just to snack or to satisfy your hunger.
Typically we want to eat five to seven small frequent meals, so really we should be “snacking” all day long. If you find that you are still hungry, you should first consider the quality of your mini meals. A nutritionally balanced meal should keep you satisfied until your next meal. If you find that you still are physically hungry in-between meals, it can be OK to snack, but we must snack smart. Eating small frequent meals or “snacking” can be one of the best things in the world, keeping our metabolism going and preventing us from getting too hungry, which can lead to over-snacking. Snacks can also be the worst thing in the world if you do not know how to pick and choose them. It is only human nature to want a snack, but do you know the tools to help you snack properly? Here is a list to help guide your snacking habits.
1. While snacking, pick a place to eat your snack and when you are done, move on with your day. If you grab a snack, plop yourself down in front of a computer or the TV, you are more apt to mindlessly eat rather than satisfying that in-between mealtime munchy. If you are at home, maybe eat at the kitchen table or kitchen. If you are at work, maybe eat in the lunchroom or at your desk. Pick a place, enjoy your snack and move on…
2. Make it quick. If you need to snack on the go, think beyond a bag of potato chips. Bring a handful of almonds or your favorite nuts, seeds, homemade granola, popcorn, veggie sticks, Greek yogurt, lean meat slices, seaweed snacks, piece of fruit, etc. Whatever it is, be sure that you only grab a serving size. Rather than grabbing the entire bag of nuts, have a pre-made serving bag available so you grab that serving and go. When you are done, you are done, without any chance to over do your snack!
3. Don’t be fooled by labeling gimmicks. Foods marketed as low fat or fat free can still be high in calories, sodium, sugar, etc. Check nutrition labels to really know what you are eating. Better yet, opt for homemade snacks rather than purchasing “snack” type items at the store. Snacks you purchase in the store are not as healthy as they often make themselves out to be. Stay away from those highly processed “100-calorie snack packs” just because they are low in calories. Go for quality and chose homemade snacks over store-bought processed junk!
4. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks— such as whole grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, and whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and Kashi— can be the perfect snack full of sustaining energy and getting in your fiber.
5. Out of sight, out of mind. If the cookie jar is full, you’ll probably snack on a cookie. If there aren’t any cookies in the house, you are most likely not going to go out and buy a cookie, but instead will go for the things that are available. If there is something that you know is tempting, keep it out of your house or out of the office. Load your kitchen with fresh fruit, raw veggies, nuts seeds or whole grain items to offer you a healthy go-to item!
6. Think outside the box and try something new. Yes, baking and cooking takes time, but when you have a few extra minutes, baking some healthy snack bars or protein pancakes are great to keep on hand for those desperate “need a snack” moments. The little bit of extra time it takes for you to prepare a dish will save you tons of time trying to run or walk off those unnecessary and unwanted calories. Not to mention, you will satisfy that hunger completely guilt free!
7. Revisit breakfast. Be sure you are eating a wholesome, balanced, high-fiber breakfast to get your day started right. This will help to avoiding unnecessary snacking, keeping you satisfied throughout the day. Many breakfast foods also make great snacks throughout the day. A bowl of oatmeal can be a great snack! Any of our protein pancakes, muffins or breakfast bars are great snack ideas and utilize our favorite go-to breakfast foods such as egg whites, protein powders and oatmeal. Breakfast foods make great snacks and probably some of my favorite foods!
8. Use the freezer. You have a freezer, so use it! Make extra “snacks” and place them in the freezer so they are ready to go when you need them. You spend that little bit of extra time cooking and then you save that time later when your snack is ready to go! Pre-made meals or last night’s dinner also make great snacks!
9. Sweeten it up. Healthy snacks don’t need to be bland and if you are craving something sweet, you can have your special treat. Try one of my favorite sweeter snacks, such as cucumbers with stevia. This is a simple snack that satisfies any sweet tooth! Rather than going for pure sugar, the no calorie, natural sweeteners do the trick without the added calories and spike in blood sugar! G-Tip: Stay away from the candy jar.
10. Remember, sometimes you really aren’t hungry but rather thirsty! Be sure you are hydrated and drinking plenty of water throughout the day so you don’t snack when really you are thirsty! Try adding fruit (berries, apples, lemon, limes or cucumbers) to your water for added flavor and to satisfy that little need for flavor. You can also try teas, coffees or flavored stevia packets to help liven up your water!
Consider my Top 20 Healthy Snack Ideas:
1. Sliced cucumbers with a touch of sweetener (stevia)
2. Protein powder mixed with a touch of water to create a “pudding”
3. Handful of nuts or seeds (my favorites: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds)
4. Bell peppers, jicama, radishes or celery with hummus, salsa or your favorite nut butter
5. Rice cakes with natural nut butter
6. High-fiber whole grain tortilla with a touch of nut butter and sugar free jelly
7. Sugar-free Jello with non-fat Greek yogurt (or non-fat Cool Whip, for a treat)
8. Greek yogurt mixed with fruit or a whole grain cereal
9. Piece of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts or tablespoon of nut butter
10. Handful of unsweetened coconut flakes
11. Protein pancakes or muffins (with or without carbs)
12. Low-sodium deli meat, such as turkey or chicken, wrapped in a full romaine lettuce leaf
13. Peanut butter protein balls (see below)
14. Kale chips (see below)
15. Air-popped popcorn
16. Bowl of oatmeal with or without fresh fruit
17. 1/2 avocado, sliced and eaten as is :)
18. Ezekiel bread or tortilla with tbsp natural nut butter
19. Hard-boiled eggs
20. Grapefruit with a touch of stevia
Happy Healthy Snacking!!
Gina’s Simple Kale Chips
-seasoning of your choice (sea salt, cayenne pepper, chipotle seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc.)
Extra virgin olive oil (spray works great)
Take kale off the stems and lie on a baking sheet. Sprinkle EVOO or use EVOO spray to make it easy. Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice. Bake at 325-375 for 7-12 minutes till just brown on the edges. If desired, you can turn on broil for a few minutes to get extra crisp. Enjoy!!!
Peanut Butter Protein Balls
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tsp of peanut butter
1/4 cup of oats
2 tbsp water
Take a small bowl add protein powder and water. Mix until forms like a dough, then add peanut butter and oats. Place mixture on parchment paper, forming a ball. Place in freezer and freeze for approximately 1 hour. Eat it frozen like a frozen pop or take out for 5 to 10 minutes just to soften a little like fudge.