SNACKING: There is a difference between a good quality snack and mindless snacking or grazing. Read ahead to zoom in on your strategy and come see me if you need help navigating!
Regardless of whether a client’s goal is weight loss, weight gain or addressing another imbalance, the quality of each snack is important. I tell my client’s it is an extra opportunity to add nourishment and nutrients to your day. A high-quality snack is close to its whole form and provides good nutrients and therapeutic effects.
- Cherry tomatoes sliced with sea salt and avocado
- Green olives (Feels like being in Italy!)
- Dry roasted pistachios or sunflower seeds (about 2 – 3 tbsp.)
- Handful of berries and 5 – 7 walnuts
- Sliced pear and cinnamon
- Herbal tea with collagen ( 1 tsp.)
- Carrot sticks with pumpkin seeds or hummus ( 2 tbsp.)
- Goats cheese (if dairy is not an issue) and gluten free crackers (approx. 3 – 5)
- Defrosted berries topped with 3 tbsp. chia pudding in a mason jar (Recipe coming soon!)
- Dark chocolate (75% and up) and berries – together they are a megadose of antioxidants
*Berries are expensive in Bermuda and are often moldy but are so nutritious. I buy frozen berries and will eat them defrosted.
Often what is challenging is portion control, but this is important for any health goal, specifically weight goals. Generally speaking, a snack should be smaller than a meal and is used to add nutrients, sustain energy levels, and keep us going until our next meal. They support blood glucose levels to prevent us from feeling ravenous when it’s time for dinner. At this point, your blood glucose levels have dropped and your body is looking for the quickest energy, and that’s not always the healthiest. Given that carbohydrates are quickest to digest, we reach for those. It’s not willpower, its biochemistry.
That said, it’s ok to allow our bodies to feel hungry and to experience hunger cues! It lets us tap into our intuition and know when it’s time to fuel. It also helps to navigate what is true hunger, and what might be boredom or habit.
Even as a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I find it supportive to portion out what I need versus what I might carelessly want. From a budget perspective, making a bag of pistachios last a whole week is a lot smarter than eating it in one go, too!
It takes about 2 – 3 hours for a meal with protein to digest, so if you’ve had a good breakfast or lunch, you won’t necessarily need to replenish with a snack for 3 – 4 hours after a meal. This will change from person to person based on exercise and other considerations, too.
- Make it a conscious act to foster good habits
Are you thirsty? Are you bored? Are you hungry? Have you ever said you’ll have a handful of popcorn and then ended up at the bottom of the bag? Step away from the computer for 5 minutes, or even just take 5 deep breaths before you eat.
Our hormones play a big role in our hunger and mood, so it can be beneficial to consciously put our bodies into a relaxed state before we begin eating. A few deep breaths can begin activating the rest and digest state (parasympathetic nervous system), which may help us to enter a calm state and listen into our hunger cues versus eat mindlessly in a panic. Nutrients get digested better in a relaxed state, too!
If you work in an office or from home, preparation is important. How often do you realize your hungry (or hangry) and then get what is closest, cheapest or most convenient? When we are past initial hunger and begin to experience other symptoms such as moodiness – it becomes less about willpower, but rather biochemical signaling from our brain that it needs a source of glucose quickly. This often causes us to reach for quick releasing carbohydrates (chips, cookies, chocolate, and bread!) that will digest quickly for immediate energy.
I stock up on several snacks at the beginning of the week and stock my work fridge. It is cheaper (no last-minute dashes to the store for $6 granola bars) and available when I need it.
This week from Supermart I picked up 1 bag of Eden Organic pistachios, 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes (sprinkle with sea salt!) and 4 pears to take me through the week.
A snack between meals can be great for some but not always necessary or beneficial. For some conditions, snacking may hinder the process of healing. For example, someone who is focusing on repairing the gut lining. If you are having a difficult time getting to grips with that to snack on and when, or if you find you can’t stop reaching for something sweet at the same time every afternoon, come see me in clinic. There are often other considerations at play such as hormones, blood sugar imbalance and on the behavior side, archaic habits and beliefs.
Most importantly, do the best you can. You don’t need the added stress so do what you can with the budget and time constriction you have!