Snacks. Just looking at the word used to make me think of Doritos, Oreos, or my personal fav, DEVIL DOGS!! But if we’re smart snackers, snacking can actually help us lose weight… Really?
OK, for some of us, snacking can be the reason we gain weight – not all snacks are created equal. That’s exactly why, though – if we choose the right snacks – they can be essential to maintaining high energy levels and helping to prevent overeating!
Say adios to that three-meals-a-day mantra – that’s just so…2015! Lately I’ve seen a ton of research extolling the benefits of eating smaller and more frequent meals. Here are some reasons why healthy snacking is the way to go:
Improves Satiety: Studies show that people who snack between meals are less hungry and eat less at meal times. Spacing out our calories makes sense actually. It takes a few hours to digest a meal OR a snack.
We’re not starving: How many times have you been ravenous before a meal? I know I have. You meet a friend for dinner, haven’t eaten since lunch, and there you are – grabbing the first thing you see: the breadbasket! The worst! We can avoid this by keeping a small snack on hand at all times. 10 almonds before dinner can subdue that starved feeling, helping us to make smarter food choices at mealtime.
Shrinks our stomach capacity: Sign me up. Research has found that people who eat smaller and more frequent meals begin to feel more satisfied with less food over time.
Improves our mood: Put down the Prozac and pick up a snack! Snacks put us in a better mood and improve our mental sharpness. When my husband is hungry, look out: he’s super cranky and irrational (sorry honey!). But give him something to eat and his mood changes immediately. There is a definite link between snacking and mood management.
So now that we agree snacking is actually good for us, let’s review the perfect snack. Ideally it should include some fresh produce, fiber, and a little fat or protein. A handful of carrots or celery won’t do the trick – we need a balance of these macronutrients to help energize us and tide us over until our next meal.
Here are some of my favorite go to's:
- Celery sticks w/ 2 teaspoons of almond or peanut butter (all natural of course!)
- 10 walnuts and 3 dried apricots
- 1 tablespoon of hummus with carrot sticks
- Popcorn (made with coconut oil, not butter)
- 1 cup of blueberries with some turkey slices
- 1 cup of your favorite green juice w/ 10 raw cashews
- Guacamole w/ 2 fiber rich crackers
Try to always have snacks on hand where you spend most of your time – in your office or your car, for example. If you know you’re going to be out all day, be prepared with pre-made snacks – otherwise a few nuts or a healthy snack bar can do the trick. And if you don’t have snacks on you and you want to buy something, no worries – just be sure they’re whole-ingredient snacks like fruit, veggies seeds, and nuts. Don’t be fooled by packaged snack foods – always read the labels!!
Adding these healthy snacks into our diets not only gets our bodies into “thinking thin,” but it also helps increase our intake of nutritionally dense foods.
So don’t just sit there… snack on something!
What’s your favorite HEALTHY snack?