Snacking has gotten an undeserved bad reputation– I think mainly because what most of us consider “snack foods” are the packaged, ultra-processed flour and sugar-based items lining store shelves. But all snacking really means is eating. And if you’re hungry you should eat and that’s not a bad thing. It’s what you choose to snack on that counts.
What do you want to look for in a snack?
1. The Right Balance. Think of a snack as a mini version of a meal. Try to eat a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrate. This combination works best for most people to give them the satisfaction and sustained energy they are looking for from a snack. Produce (fruit or veg) plus a protein/fat source is a winning combo. I’ll translate that into some examples below!
2. Whole Foods, Not Highly Processed. Another way to put this is choose nutrient-dense foods rather than those supplying mainly empty calories. This means an apple instead of apple juice. Nuts instead of pretzels. Watch out for foods made primarily from white flour and sugar. For example, those 100 calorie snack packs that everyone seems to think are so great. They may be portion controlled and low in calories but they aren’t going to do a lot as far as providing nutrition and balanced energy. High glycemic foods like crackers, granola bars, chips, cookies and pretzels are composed primarily of refined carbohydrate with little fat or protein. They will promote a greater blood sugar increase instead of a more gradual, longer-lasting release of energy.
3. Enjoyment and Pleasure! Eating foods you love will resonate with your body as more fulfilling. Even though I’ve just listed “balance” and “whole foods” as what to think about when snacking, I’m not suggesting you totally restrict yourself from your favorite foods, even if they may not be the most healthful. Foods are not simply “good” or “bad” things on their own. There’s a much bigger picture to consider– there is your diet and your lifestyle as a whole that will shape who you are more than an individual food.
Probably my all-time favorite snack.
Apple with peanut butter!
My Favorite Snack Ideas:
- Fruit Plus Nuts/Nut butters: Apple with peanut butter. Banana with almond butter. Orange with pistachios. Grapes with walnuts. Figs with macadamia nuts. Keep a variety in your fridge and enjoy your favorite combos. Look for raw or dry-roasted nuts. Check ingredient lists: Nuts and nut butters can sometimes contain added ingredients. I’m shocked when I see “cottonseed oil” in an ingredient list for nuts– cotton is one of the most highly pesticided crops and I’m pretty sure that cotton is not even a food so for both of those reasons watch out for it.
- Raw Veggies Plus Hummus: Baby carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower or broccoli florets just to name a few. Dip in a hearty and healthy hummus made from chickpeas and tahini.
- Yogurt with Homemade Granola: Get the full-fat whole-milk unsweetened yogurts. Even better, grass-fed and organic when you can find it. The granola will add sweetness and crunch. Ask me how to make your own granola OR look for one in the store with wholesome ingredients and not a lot of added sugar.
- Bars like Lara or Kind: These are great because of their portability. I take a bar and an apple when I’m going to be out for a while and I’m usually glad I did.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs: Try hummus deviled eggs by mixing the yolks with hummus.
- Jerky with a Fruit: I like to find the pasture-raised jerky like the Epic bars.
- Trail Mix: Kind of along the lines of the fruit plus nuts, only this one has dried fruit and it’s really easy to pack in your purse or bag. Great for taking on car trips or long bike rides.
- Cheese (or Cottage Cheese) with Fruit: As with all dairy, consider it’s source– so find organic and grass-fed cheeses. Remember, no fat-free! Nature made dairy with fat for a reason; it’s there to nourish you. Pair with grapes, apples, pears, berries, mango, melon….etc.
- Canned Tuna or Sardines with Guacamole and Salsa on Cucumber Slices. May sound weird, but SO good.
- Deli Meat Rolled in a Collard or Romaine Leaf: I like the better quality versions of lunch meat like Applegate Farms. No nitrates or nitrites added. No hormones, antibiotics, fillers or artificial ingredients.
- Green Tea with Dark Chocolate or Red Wine with Dark Chocolate: Ok, so there always has to be one that breaks the rules, right? 🙂
This one just makes you feel good. 🙂 And think of all the antioxidants….
Final Tip: Take a moment to relax before you eat. A good way to do this is to take a few deep inhales and exhales which will help you slow down. Feel gratitude for the food you have to nourish you. Don’t forget that HOW you eat matters in addition to what you eat. As I encourage everyone to do every time they eat, practice eating slowly, mindfully and enjoy every bite. ♥