Should you be snacking?

Hi everyone,

Boy has it been a crazy week! Finally started clinicals this week and today I saw my first patient! My brain is literally exploding with all of the new info that has been shoved into it this week! My take home lesson from this week: take care of your heart. Seriously, take care of your heart.

I want to give you guys with some end of the week reading so lets talk about snacks. Snacks are an important part of your daily nutrition because they can make or break your healthy, real food eating efforts. 

I love my snacks (especially chicharrones) as much as the next person, but snacks are all about timing...

Picture this:

It's 4:30 pm when you get in your car to drive home. Your 30 minute commute turns into an hour because it's raining and things are moving slow. Your stomach had started rumbling for food at four but you wanted to wait until you got home for dinner. 5:30, you finally walk in your front door, shaking. You hope you don't need to interact with anyone because you are hangry. You open the fridge to pick at anything and everything you see. Your roommates leftover cold pasta, why not? Five handfuls of grapes, don't mind if I do. When you finally start making dinner you continue to pick as you cook. Finally, you sit down to eat and realize your hunger has subsided and you've just eaten enough for the entire day. 

We have all been there, and it's not a fun place to be.

So what is the best way to avoid the hanger and subsequent attack of the fridge? Pack a snack!

I prefer to overpack snacks so I have options based on my hunger level and I am prepared for whatever my day throws at me!

There is so much out there about how many times you should eat, how frequently, how big the meals should be, but that comes down to individual preference. I used to eat many times a day, but I found myself eating when I wasn't hungry. I don't believe that we need to count calories, but if you are eating when you aren't hungry, you are likely taking in more energy than your body is asking for..

On the other hand, you should eat if you are hungry. Here, I want to stress the importance of being prepared and having a snack. I ALWAYS have at least a granola bar in my bag. It helps me avoid situations like those above. Keep in mind, when I talk about snacks, I am talking about a real food, high quality choice that will help prevent extreme hunger. I am not talking about snacking on a bag of potato chips while you watch the game or having popcorn at the movies. A snack should be a nutritious and easily accessible addition to your daily eating times. I tend to need a small snack to hold me over to dinner. I will also eat before I go out to eat. It seems silly, but if I leave at five for dinner I am lucky if food is delivered to my table by 6:15. After driving, being seated, deciding what to eat, ordering drinks, and finally ordering food, a lot of time will pass. Typically I would be left starving with a debilitating stomachache or devouring everything on my plate without thinking (or tasting).

When are you most prone to overeat or head to the vending machine or office break room? Those cravings and overeating episodes can be avoided if you have a real food option with you.

So, what are some real food snack ideas? I am glad you asked.

  • Plain yogurt (should have at least equal grams protein and sugar) + frozen fruit
  • Nuts + coconut chips/ chex cereal/ dried fruit/ dark chocolate chips
  • Beef/ turkey jerky. Oberto is a pretty good brand you can find at the grocery store (don't forget to compare ingredients between flavors), Trader Joes also has some great jerky!
  • Granola bar. See comments on choosing a good one here !
  • Roasted squash or sweet potato + nut butter. You can buy individual nut butter packets too!
  • Rice cake + nuts/ nut butter
  • Cottage cheese, full fat + grape tomatoes
  • Hard boiled egg + string cheese
  • Veggies + hummus
  • Leftover chicken + nut butter
  • Plantain chips + guacamole
  • Apple or banana + nut butter packet <<<so easy to travel with this combo!
  • Bacon + peanut butter
  • Deli meat + cheese cubes
  • 1 corn tortilla + nut butter or deli meat
  • Leftover pancakes, muffins, loaf slices- you can freeze these in individual servings (I use gluten free and paleo recipes, typically using coconut, almond or tapioca flour)

The key here: never eat sugar alone! When you eat sugar alone, you will likely be hungry again in half an hour. How do you avoid eating sugar alone? Step away from the vending machine, pretzels are not  your friend. Skip the sugary yogurt (read: any flavored yogurt), buy plain and add your own fruit. Don't eat an apple by itself, enjoy with nuts or cottage cheese. Eating sugar with a protein or fat-rich food (or both) will help you stay full and prevent your blood sugar from rising and falling. We will get more into carbohydrates, fats, and protein in another post, but for now remember to focus on the real!

Any snack ideas or combos that you always turn to? I'd love to hear your ideas! And feel free to mix and match the items above! 

Happy Snacking! :)