Part 3: Healthy Snacking
Hopefully, by now, you have read the first two blogs in this series which break down how to figure out what your cravings are and how to stop them from taking over your life (or at least your dietary choices). In this post, we’re going to discuss some of my favorite snacking options and end with the secret to healthier snacking.
Let’s start with water. You may not think of it as a snack, but it is far more beneficial and often more filling that many unhealthy snacks out there. For those of you that don’t like the “plain” taste of water, you can always flavor it by adding your favorite fruits like strawberries, apples, or limes. Another good alternative would be coconut water which has natural sugars and electrolytes which help to hydrate the body and keep it functioning properly. These are good replacements for sodas and fruit juices which often are very high in sugars.
Seeds and Nuts:
Seeds and nuts are often great snacks. This is because they are high in good fats and proteins which digest slowly and therefore keep you feeling full for longer. My favorite include pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, cashews, and pistachios.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits and vegetables are excellent snacks because they are high in all kinds of vitamins and antioxidants, as well as a good source of fiber.
Fruits are great snacks, but they should be used in moderation because of their high natural sugar content.This high sugar content, however, makes them an excellent tool to satisfy sugar cravings, all the while weening yourself off of processed sugary foods. At least once a day I will get a sugar craving which is usually satisfied by a banana; however, if I am feeling especially indulgent I will go for a mango that day.
Vegetables are also a great snack, whether it be carrots, celery, tomatoes, or any other vegetable that you prefer. If you do not like eating vegetables alone, you can always pair them with other foods like a hummus dip or peanut butter. If I have to sit through a long meeting or presentation, I will often pack myself a bag of baby carrots to crunch on to keep me from being bored and hungry.
Chocolate is not inherently bad. In fact, chocolate that is high in cocoa is usually a good source of magnesium, which is one of the most common deficiencies in America. If you are used to eating milk chocolate, switching straight to 90% cocoa will seem extremely unpleasant because of the bitterness of high percentage cocoa. I found that the key is to start at a lower percentage and work yourself up. The bitterness does not seem as dramatic that way and you will slowly push your taste buds to appreciate the bitterness.
Often times when I am between meals I get hungry. I am not hungry enough to eat a whole meal; however, if I were to try and satisfy it with any sort of craving food I would easily over indulge. Because of that I always pack myself some sandwiches for those in between moments when I know I’m going to by hungry. I prefer PB & J or ham and cheese. Be careful not to overeat!
Other Hodgepodge Snacks:
There are many snacks that have a base and allow you to add ingredients as you wish. Smoothies, oatmeal, and salads are some just to name a few. In fact, Rockville Sport and Spine Rehab’s own Dr. Patrick Engracia likes to spend some nights creating delicious energy bars for himself. You can often get ready-made protein bars from grocery stores; however, they are usually less fresh, contain more chemicals, and have much more sugar than if you were to make them yourself. You can also have the added benefit of customizing it so that it perfectly suits your tastes and needs.
- Popcorn – is a great snack because it has very few calories and is able to satisfy salty, butter, or sweet cravings depending on how it is prepared.
- Greek Yogurt – is a great source of dairy and calcium and it contains probiotics to keep your gut biota healthy.
- Kale chips – can be used to substitute for potato chips and can easily be made at home.
- Hard boiled eggs – are a good source of protein and some important vitamins.
The Secret to Healthy Snacking
The secret to healthier snacking is to figure out what you’re craving and find the healthier option. The last two posts were about how to figure out what and why you are craving the foods that you crave. In this post, we discussed a few healthier snacking options and some of my specific snacks. Now it is your turn to find the snacks that are best for you. This will start first by narrowing down what you are craving for in a snack and then slowly making small, healthier decisions every day. These small changes are much easier to maintain and will lead to long-term changes if they are followed.
Personal Trainer, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Rehab Specialist