Snacking or Not?
This has been a discussion for a while. While some people feel like snacking can lead to poor nutrition choices and eating too much when you’re not hungry, you have the other side. You are trying to eat healthy and keep to 3 meals throughout the day and then all the sudden around mid-afternoon you feel hungry. Then by the time dinner comes around you eat whatever is in sight because you’ve allowed to get yourself to the point of being on empty.
Snacking is not bad, especially when done in the right way. If you’re hungry, honor your body telling you what it needs. That being said, let’s look at a few things to keep in mind when snacking or preparing for snacking.
Is This Satisfying?
There are some days I’m just hungry and can grab a handful of almonds and be fine until the next meal. Other times, I’ve been thinking about that chocolate in the pantry for a while. Ask yourself will this be satisfying to me?
The reason being is that I’ve seen, and guilty myself, of deciding that I shouldn’t have the chocolate, so I’m going to have carrot sticks or an apple instead. Then I’m still needing more. So I grab a yogurt or some almonds. Still didn’t work. I get the piece of chocolate and then I’m good. Sometimes you have to give a little.
When grabbing something like chocolate, baked goods, cheese puffs, whatever it might be for you, when you decide you will snack on it, portion it. Put the rest away. Enjoy every bite. Move on with the rest of your day.
Sometimes the chocolate needs to come back out. Because life. But you know…
Hydrate When Snacking
A lot of times when we feel hungry our bodies are saying it needs more water. So respond to your hunger with a small snack, but make sure you are also having some sort of hydration with it. Water, herbal tea, etc. This also helps to slow down your snacking. Sip on your water or tea and have a few bites. Which brings us to our next tip.
Take a Minute
When you snack, sit. Have this be a moment to take care of yourself and take a break. Even if it’s a few minutes. The world can slow down for a minute. Put whatever you are snacking on – fruit, nuts, chocolate, roasted chickpeas – on a plate, with your drink, sit down, and enjoy it. Food is fuel but it’s also taking care of yourself, so take a minute, take care of your hunger, breathe, and move on. And when you sit, try not to make it in front of a screen when you are not paying attention to what you are eating.
This has especially helped me since I don’t want to sit before whatever I need to accomplish by the end of the day is done, but I realized taking a break, sitting, and enjoying the mental break that a small snack can provide is what’s needed.
You Eat What You See
This is so true! Whatever you see when your hungry, it’s going to be what you eat. So for those that are trying to snack on more fruits and vegetables, have the fruit on the counter, the veggies ready to go on a shelf in the fridge instead of in the drawer, put the sweets and chips behind the almonds, granola, and roasted chickpeas. Make the snacks that you are trying to have less of, harder to get.
Another point with this is to prep for snacking. If you know you need a snack in the afternoon, plan to have healthy options ready and available to start eating. For instance, if you plan to have some hummus and carrot sticks, already have a snack bag of carrots sticks ready to go to grab. If you plan to have an orange for your snack, don’t just throw it in with your lunch. Peel it, and have the slices ready to grab.
*TIP: Cut carrots and celery last longer in the fridge when placed in water. Add this to your next meal plan if you do that kind of thing.
Have A Balanced Snack
And finally, make sure the snack is a filling snack. Snacks are meant as something that will ward of the feeling of being completely empty when meal time comes, usually. So make sure it’s satisfying from a nutritional standpoint.
Having snacks high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats will make sure it sticks with you longer, regulates your blood sugar, and makes the snack worth it. If it’s a random piece of toast, it’s not going to last long. If it’s a whole grain toast with peanut butter or avocado, it will last a lot longer and help you to make better decisions when it comes to your next meal.
Eat what will satisfy you. Plan ahead, portion it out, take a break and drink some water to take care of yourself physically and mentally, and make sure it’s something that will stick with you longer than 10 minutes. Don’t be rigid, but be aware of what you’re doing and snacking on to take care of yourself the best way you can that day. Sometimes a snack is just what’s needed to get you to the next part of your day.