I don’t know about you but every other day I’m hearing a different opinion about how, what, when, and where you should eat. With so much information and so much conflicting information, what should you do? Well first and foremost recognize that you are you. And what works for someone else might not be the best strategy for you. For example, a lot of my clients are getting great results with intermittent fasting, but if you have issues with low blood sugar, that would not be the plan for you. So try different plans and when you find one that fits, go with it!
Traditionally snacking was frowned upon and often the cause of unwanted weight gain. Now it seems to be very popular even with those trying to lose weight. So what are the pros and the cons of snacking?
- Snacking prevents you from getting too hungry so that you overeat at meals.
- Snacking helps keep your energy even throughout the day.
- Snacking can fill nutritional gaps and boost your intake of fruits and veggies. This is only true if you are snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Snacking can keep your mood on an even keel. When you feel like your blood sugar is sinking, it is easy to feel “down.”
- Snacking can be an excuse to eat junk food or food you wouldn’t normally eat at a meal.
- The amount eaten at a snack can easily add up to way more calories than you would normally eat in a day.
- Traditional snack foods are often void of nutritional value (crackers, cookies, chips, and other vending machine-type foods).
The real danger in snacking is that it can add extra calories to your day. Just think if you add 100 extra calories a day you could gain 10 pounds in a year! Yikes! Snacking should really mirror your over all food plan of healthy foods and moderation. If you find yourself mindlessly reaching for a snack, you might end up reaching for something loaded with calories and junk. So plan your snacks ahead of time.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Remember that cravings happen! When it hits and you get the urge to snack, don’t get into the bad habit of eating junk foods high in sugars, fats, and calories. The trick to snacking without piling on the pounds is to find healthy alternatives to the regular snacks you might normally reach for.
Often when you get a craving it’s for either something sweet (chocolate!), savory (cheese puffs!), creamy (ice cream!), or crunchy (potato chips!). But if you’re trying to eat healthy and release some weight, finding healthy alternatives to regular junk food snacks is so the way to go.
So when you’re getting a craving for something sweet try:
- fresh, whole fruit
- apples and almond butter
- dried fruit
- green smoothies
- banana “ice cream” (peel a banana, freeze, blend in a food processor with nuts, berries or raisins ,and serve)
- dates stuffed with almond butter or other nut butter
- organic dark chocolate chips or carob chips
For your savory cravings, try these healthy alternatives:
- pickles and pickled vegetables, such as carrot, daikon, beets, and lotus root
- tabouli, hummus
- steamed vegetables with tamari/shoyu or umeboshi vinegar
- freshly made salsa or guacamole
- Sauerkraut (will also knock your sweet craving right out!)
- salted edamame
Your creamy cravings can be met by eating:
- rice pudding
- dips and spreads, like hummus and baba ghanoush
- puréed soups
- puddings made with silken tofu, avocado, or mashed banana
- mashed sweet potatoes
- coconut milk
Finally, don‘t cave and reach for the Doritos, when you can eat these crunchy (but still healthy) snacks:
- frozen grapes
- rice cakes
- light popcorn or plain popcorn (use coconut oil to pop in a covered pan)
- carrots (particularly the sweet, organic baby carrots)
- celery and nut butter
- raw, unsalted nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts
Don’t fight your craving. Instead, go with it, listen to your body, and choose the healthier options. Remember you have a choice and are in a position to take control of your health. So start by eating healthier snacks, giving your metabolism a boost, and eating nutritious foods between meals.