One question I often get revolves around snacking. While I do want to give good snack ideas I often don’t have time to address snacking as a whole. For this blog post I am going to dive into the whole idea of snacking – should you be snacking? How should you be snacking? And what should you be snacking on?
One of my main nutrition philosophies is that nourishment is not one-size-fits-all. We all have different bodies, lifestyles, stressors, preferences, activity level etc. Therefore, the number of snacks you need each day and how often you eat each day is going to be completely dependent on you!
A Few Guidelines
1. Pay attention to your hunger cues
When you feel hungry (that could be a rumbling in your stomach, slight light-headedness, irritability, etc) your body is telling you that it needs nourishment. Now, if you just ate an hour ago then you might want to evaluate your last meal – was it sufficient enough to satisfy and nourish you? Most likely, you didn’t eat enough at your last meal. No big deal, just try to play around with your meal portions next time. Be sure you have enough protein, fat and fiber to keep you full for at least a few hours.
*There are certain seasons of life and medical conditions that require eating more often, so if you are in one of those seasons please pay attention and nourish as needed!*
2. Establish an eating rhythm
One of the best things you can do for your health is to pay attention to your body and what it is trying to tell you. I’m currently exploring Intuitive Eating and I love the way it encourages you to trust your body when it comes to food and movement. It may be a good idea to write down the times of day you feel hungry, what you decided to eat and how it made you feel (Satisfied? Full? Still hungry? Pleasant? Unpleasant?). Make note of the times of day you tend to be hungrier and play around with the types of meals and snacks that make you feel nourished and satisfied. Establish a rhythm of eating (ex: I tend to need more food in the morning, or afternoons are where I need to get some serious nutrients in) that fits your body and lifestyle best.
3. Eat a balanced snack
So what should you eat when you feel hungry and you know your body needs nourishment? As a rule of thumb you want to make sure your snack is somewhat balanced in protein, healthy fat, and fiber.
Protein can be both animal and plant-based and is necessary for every working cell in your body.
Healthy fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive/coconut/avocado oils) is important for brain health and balancing your blood sugar.
Fiber is found only in plant-based foods (fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains) and helps stabilize your blood sugar and keep your digestive tract healthy.
Unfortunately most snack foods marketed to us are full of processed food, refined carbs and just plain junk. The result of eating these processed foods is that our body doesn’t get the nourishment it is after. Add to that the fluctuation in blood sugar from the refined carbs and sugar and your body is going to be craving food all day. Nutrient-density is what you are after when you eat.
In review, pay attention to your hunger cues. Try to develop a good eating rhythm with meals and snacks that is unique to your body. Choose high-quality, nourishing snacks that will both nourish, satisfy, and carry you to your next meal.
Now onto some snack ideas:
Homemade: (links are to my Pinterest page, scroll for specific recipes)
Coconut yogurt + pumpkin seeds and berries
Seasonal fruit + nuts
Banana slices, nutbutter and coconut slices
Carrots (organic tastes so much better!) with hummus
Trail Mix (mix nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, cocoa nibs)
Plantain Chips dipped in Avocado + salt
Grass-fed, whole milk cheese with whole-grain crackers
Roasted or sautéed veggies in coconut oil and nutritional yeast
Cut veggies dipped in guacamole
Grass-fed Greek Yogurt + berries and nuts/seeds (don't be afraid of the fat in yogurt!)
Primal Kitchen Bars
Grass-fed Beef Jerky
Nuts, raw and/or spiced
Here’s a thought, sometimes the urge to snack comes from boredom. As I said before, evaluate your hunger cues. Are you really hungry? Sometimes a nourishing drink is all your body needs.
A Challenge for You
Here’s your challenge: come up with your own snacks that satisfy. That list above? Those are just ideas from a dietitian who has no idea what your hunger feels like, your preferences or what satisfies you. Take some time to think through what you love and what your body needs. (As a side note - if what you love is processed food, think through how you can give your choices an upgrade - choose the organic version, the all-natural version, and pair it with protein, healthy fat or fiber etc). A healthy lifestyle is what we’re after and with some thought and attention, your snacking can reflect your unique eating style.
Need help? I would love to work one-on-one with you to establish a healthy eating rhythm and habits. Sometimes you just need a little coaching and encouragement to move forward.
Questions? I would love to hear from you! Send me an email here and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.