For some reason in society today, the word “snacking” has such a negative connotation. I am here to tell you that EVERY DAY and yes I mean EVERY DAY I snack 2 times a day, and sometimes after dinner too. Mind blown?? It shouldn’t be!!!
There is some truth to how snacking got such a bad rap. If you eat chips, cookies and candy for your snack, yes you will see negative side-effects. I am here to show you how I choose the snacks that will re-charged me instead of making me feel sluggish.I know it is weird... but it is actually healthier to snack (if you do it smartly). This is because it will keep your glycemic index more stable and will keep your metabolism up instead of experiencing huge spikes for the standard 3-meals-a-day eating plan.
Before we dive into my world of snacking, I want to mention that I am not a registered dietitian...this is just how I balance the food in my life. Now, before I disclose my tips and tricks, I will show you my eating schedule so you can get the full picture of how I incorporate these snacks every day (even when I have to go into the office).
My food schedule looks like this:
Breakfast: between 7-8am
Snack #1: around 10:30am
Lunch: between 11:30-12pm
Snack #2: between 3-3:30pm
Dinner: between 5:30-7:30pm (depends on the day)
Optional Snack (doesn’t happen every day): 8-8:30pm
When planning my snacks for work, I like to plan a sweet snack and a savory (salty) snack. For example: if I have an apple and peanut butter for my snack #1, I will have stove-top popcorn (or a healthy retail bagged popcorn) for snack #2.
Here are a few ways you can snack smart:
Oranges or other fruits: like berries, bananas or melons with optional nuts
For this snack, I either eat them on their own or I pair it with a small amount of nuts. If pairing with nuts, make sure you only do 1/4 cup of nuts (to control the calorie/fat content). Also, unsalted nuts are the better option, but salted are still fine!
Apples and Peanut Butter (or any nut butter or non-nut butter for those that have nut allergies)
For this snack, a trick I always do is cut up the apple into small wedges. When you have more wedges, you get full faster! I feel like it is a mind illusion.
You must ONLY take 2 tbsp of that butter you use or find the serving size of the butter and stick to it. This helps keep you in-check of your consumption. Portion control is very important. Nut butters are a great healthy snack, but too much can contribute too much fat to your diet.
NO SUPER BUTTER BAGGED POPCORN! If using bagged popcorn, look for light salt, smart pop and natural popcorn varieties. Also, PLEASE look at the serving size on the pack and only eat that amount, you can bag the rest for another day.
It is great to make stove-top popcorn! If using this option, make sure to also portion control yourself with a small bowl and do not over-do it with the salt.
There are also pre-popped bags of popcorn like SmartPop or Skinny Pop. These are great options too! Once again though, you must follow the serving size and not eat the whole bag.
I eat this snack a lot! For a portion, it is usually 2 tbsp, which is actually a lot!!
I eat hummus with either: crackers (usually pita chips or triscuits), pretzels, carrots, raw veggies (broccoli or tomatoes) and/or celery spears. If eating with crackers or pretzels, try to eat a little less than the serving size because you are also getting calories from the hummus. For veggies, go wild! You could also do a mix of veggies and crackers to get the best of both worlds
Celery and nut butter or a non-nut butter
I would do 3-4 finger length spears with a small amount of your nut butter on each. You can also dive into your childhood and put some raisins on top (ants on a log).
Salsa/guac and chips
With this one, you have to portion out your salsa/guac and chips or you will eat wayyyyy too much. I am guilty of this because salsa is so addicting to me.
String cheese/individual cheese snacks
You only need to eat one for a good snack :)
Cheese and deli meat roll-up
With this snack, I would make only 1 as a snack and maybe pair it with 3-4 crackers. You do not want to make this a meal; this is just something to hold you over. You use one piece of cheese with 1 piece of deli meat and roll it up!
You can also make variations and maybe add some lettuce in them or an apple slice to give it a sweet and salty taste!
There are many things you need to look out for when picking a “healthier” snack bar. The first one is the calorie amount. If you want to make this a snack, try to stay around 100 - 180 calories, you don’t want a meal replacer bar.
Next, you want to look at the sugar content. Anything above 10g is a NO! Try and aim for 5-6g.
Now look at the carb count. Try to find something on the lower end…under 20g is ideal, but low 20s are okay too.
Also check out the protein amount. This part isn’t crucial, but it helps you stay full longer. If you could find something between 5g and 15g, that is ideal.
Another option is instead of buying a bar, you can make your own! You just need to make sure the recipe's main ingredient isn't sugar.
First thing is first…CHECK SUGAR. Anything above 11g…that is a big fat NO. Even if it says low-fat…actually, especially when it says low-fat. Side food science lesson: anything lower in fat, food companies add back either salt or sugar, so beware and read your labels. The reason they add salt or sugar is because when fat is reduced, it reduces mouth feel snd sometimes flavor. Salts and sugars help bring back that body.
Next, check the calorie content. Try to stay under 150 calories if possible.
Another option is using plain yogurt or greek non-fat plain yogurt and sweetening it yourself with a teaspoon of honey and some berries. Add a little granola on top for some added texture!
If using plain cottage cheese, make sure you follow the serving size on the back of pack. Then, I like to add around a teaspoon of honey and some berries! It is the perfect snack!
If buying a pre-packaged individual serving cottage cheese that has fruit in it, check the sugar. Please follow the same rules for yogurt listed above.
Plain Pretzels and/or crackers:
1. Make sure you follow the serving sizes of each cracker or pretzel you want to snack on!
I hope this article helps guide you into the world of smart snacking! You may even come up with new snack ideas with the tips I taught you above. A smart snacker is a conscientious snacker; one that reads labels and understands how to portion correctly!