Snacking can be tricky. Many times people need snackies but don’t take them or do not allow themselves healthy options for snacks (I.e relying on vending machines and convenience foods).
I tell my patients that snacks should be used the same way a bridge is used. They are both there to bridge a gap, and you want them to be structurally/nutritionally sound.
Many times people think snacks add unnecessary calories. And they can when poor choices are made.
Now think on this- we all get busy and sometimes skip meals or don’t snack. Now think about how much we eat at the next meal(you’re going to eat more than you think). So maybe you still haven’t made the connection. Ok now think of how you feel after consuming a large meal. You feel like the love child of Jabba the Hut and a sloth.
Because you consumed a lot more calories than necessary at one sitting- yeah and you totes made up for those skipped snacks/meals….
So how do we prevent feeling like “Slobba the Hut”?
For starters don’t skip meals. Even if you aren’t awfully hungry maybe just a light nosh (snack on some nuts, and fruit, or some veggies, yogurt) will be necessary.
Whether you are Diabetic and aiming for consistent glycemic control or a healthy individual trying to lose weight or maintain weight- skipping meals is less than ideal. You will very likely eat more than you intend the next time you encounter food.
Here is where the snacks come in. My typical recommendation for patients is three meal periods and three snack periods. Depending on the nutritional needs of the individual meals can be larger or smaller. I recommend always adding a carbohydrate, a protein, non- starchy veggies, and some healthy fat. And disperse the calories as needed (not everyone needs 2000 calories).
Snacks should come in between these meals so that we aren’t toooooooo hungry going into the mealtime.
Some of the doctors I know tell their patients the calories in a snack should not be more than 10% of their total calorie needs for a day. It’s a fair rule of thumb but somewhat misguided.
I’d rather have my patients eat something with a little bit more calories and more nutrition than fewer calories and little to no nutrition.
Snacks should be filling but not overly so. Items that nutrient dense and overall healthy choices will always be fruits and veggies. Even if veggies are SPARINGLY dipped in ranch. Hummus is good for those don’t just love raw veggies. There is a great amount of protein in hummus.
Other yummyly snacks are cottage cheese and fruit (I recommend pineapple, kiwi, or strawberries), yogurt – preferably Greek yogurt (added protein) if you don’t like the Greek style go with one that has the probiotics in it (Activia) for some added benefit and add your own fruit.
Nuts. Almonds, walnuts!!!! Nuts are a fantastical nutrient dense food. Nuts a packed with fiber, some protein, and heart healthy fats! However because nuts are full of fat (even though it is healthy) a little bit go a long way. Meaning: items with more fat will contain more calories; also meaning: you don’t need the whole bag of almonds to get the benefit.
So last but not least snack/granola bars. This a popular area, however your snack bars should be closer to being a healthy food versus having equivalent ingredients to a candy bar.
Some of my favorite snack bars are:
-Larabar– Larabars are fantastic for a boatload of reasons
1) A majority of the bars (if not all) are: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and kosher- great if you have any of those corresponding allergies or sensitivities
2) I believe all bars are made with 7 ingredients or less, and you can pronounce every.single.ingredient
3) They are good sources of fiber
4) They contain poly- and monounsaturated fats (the better for you fats)
5) Most bars (if not all) 1 bar = 1/4 cup of fruit
My only downside for these is they are not for people who have nut allergies or those who despise nuts. I am slowly making myself love nuts more, and these bars are helping. My fav flavors are: Coconut Cream Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Cherry Pie.
Over great bars- I adore the Clif company. They have various types of bars- their basic clif bar, Clif Crunch, Clif Builder’s Bar, Mojo, Kit’s Organic, Clif Kid, and the Luna bars.
They pride themselves on using the freshest ingredients. They also have the Clif shots, bloks, roks, and electrolyte drinks for my running activities.
I use the basic Clif bar usually as part of a pre-race meal, and a Builder’s bar following. Clif also uses ingredients that you can pronounce. Their bars have a few more ingredients than the Larabars but they are all common products, and no artificial sweeteners, or dyes.
Your basic Fiber ones are just “ok” to me that line is turning more into candy coated fiber. You can get fiber from better places. But we are humans so sometimes we do want a little chocolate and caramel with our fiber.
Remember snacks are our bridges. They do offer up calories so we want nutrient rich snacks with good for you fats, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals (fruits and veggies).
Snack responsibly 🙂