Most of us are familiar with that familiar tug of hunger, usually around 3 PM and especially after dinner; that craving to have a little treat or a pick-me-up. We often reach for cookies, crackers, ice cream or chips and then feel guilty about it. Let’s drop the guilt and get some real facts about snacking.
Most people actually do need to snack. Our metabolism functions more effectively when we are putting consistent fuel into our bodies. Our body is like a steam engine which slows and stops if fuel is not regularly put into it. As your metabolism slows down, it more easily stores food as fat. Snacking can actually be a really good thing for energy and weight management, but it depends on when we snack and what snack we choose.
As with most things in life, healthy snacking takes planning. We typically don’t make the best decisions when we are tired and our brain is starving for energy. That’s usually when the fast energy sources – sugar and other simple carbohydrates – end up in our mouths. So plan ahead. Make sure to put healthy snack foods on your grocery list and have some in your backpack, purse, car or office so you don’t get too hungry between meals.
Some ready-made snacks are available in individual serving sizes; for example, Trader Joe’s nut mixes. Hummus and guacamole now come in single-serve cups. Look for these in your grocery’s produce aisle or at warehouse stores. Single-portion packaging makes snacks easily portable when you’re on the run, and are sized to help us moderate our consumption.
Drop the guilt and get some real facts about snacking.
A bedtime snack is also helpful for our energy and digestion. Some people in new recovery still have a difficult time staying asleep throughout the night. Blood sugar drops rapidly if we don’t have enough glucose, and our body wakes us up. If you do have a snack, make sure it’s a complex carbohydrate such as whole grain breads or vegetables along with some protein such as an egg, nuts or some yogurt.
If you simply must have a sugary snack in the evening, try a small bit of dark chocolate and some vanilla Greek yogurt or freeze some grapes and eat them with a handful of almonds.
You can enjoy snacking – and drop the guilt!
- Fruit and nut butter such as cashew, almond or peanut
- String cheese
- Greek yogurt (You can even freeze it, let it sit on the counter for ten minutes, then enjoy good-for-you frozen yogurt.)
- A handful of trail mix
- Celery and nut butter
- Hummus and veggies
- A banana, berry and Greek yogurt smoothie (Freeze the extra in a popsicle mold for later.)
- Half an avocado sprinkled with some lemon juice
- A hardboiled egg (You can buy these already boiled and peeled.)
- A small bowl of granola with nuts and coconut or almond milk
- Black bean chips and homemade guacamole
- Five whole grain crackers and cheese
- A slice of whole grain or sprouted bread with nut butter or sliced turkey
- A cup of cottage cheese and some fruit or vegetables
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