News outlets extol the virtues of what to eat for breakfast and dinner and why. But did you know that eating the right combination of snacks at the right time of day can be a Superpower to increase energy, reduce after-meal cravings, and stabilize blood sugar?
Feeding yourself nutritious food is one of the best forms of self-love and care. Over the years, I’ve witnessed heated discussions on when and how much to snack, but as with most nutrition topics, the lines blur, leaving us confused about what we should and shouldn’t eat, or even if we should snack at all. But as a nutritionist, I see the power in these portable, bite-sized eats that can make all the difference in the day’s success.
How and why we snack
Various reports on people’s eating habits have found that those who snack do so to satisfy cravings for sweet or salty food, prevent or relieve hunger, pass the time, deal with emotions or boredom, or replace meals. In fact, the “snackification” trend is at an all-time high, with 25% of surveyed people confessing to snacking multiple times per day, and 40% of people admitting to replacing a traditional meal with snacks. Between-meal noshing supplies nearly one-fourth of daily calories, earning snacks the status of the “fourth meal.”
Understanding your own body and emotional needs will help you assess why you want to eat. When choosing the best food for your body, snacking should be a guilt-free way to increase nutrient density, energy, and happiness. Yes, food has the power to create incredible feelings of joy and happiness.
Make every bite count
Unfortunately, what people are snacking on is where we encounter potential issues. Most people report snacking on convenient, processed food high in calories, sugar, and fat. This type of food does the opposite of what a snack is intended to do for our bodies. The garbage-in-garbage-out philosophy could never be more accurate when snacking, as this is a choice that we make each day. Say no to junk and hello to health. Let your snacks work synergistically for your body by eating the right combination at the right time of day. Snacks can be a superpower. Elite athletes snack for peak performance. You can, too! To make your snacks work for you, follow these tips to set yourself up for success.
Tips for quality snacking
Choose whole, real food to reduce hunger and cravings, and boost your energy and concentration; consider foods that offer you a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, such as:
- Apples and nut butter
- Raw vegetables or seed crackers with hummus
- Avocado toast
- Energy bites (there are so many combinations, including oats, nut butter, honey, seeds, dried fruit, dark chocolate, etc.)
- Dates and peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Greek yogurt and granola
- Egg bites (super easy to make in a muffin tin)
- Dark chocolate
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Muffins made from nourishing flours such as whole wheat, spelt, almond, or coconut
Intuitive snacking – Listen to your body and pay attention to the cues it gives you, as the goal in your day is to feel like your best self. The right food can help you perform in all facets. Ideally, two small snacks in between meals are plenty. How often have you tried to ignore your hunger mid-afternoon, only to find yourself eating a bag of chips while you cook dinner? If you had listened to your body around 3 pm and eaten a nourishing snack (half an apple with nut butter or string cheese), your appetite would’ve been in check, and you would’ve then enjoyed dinner with your family.
Plan ahead – Meal planning is a game-changer on all fronts, and the same goes for snacks. Ensure you have a well-stocked fridge and pantry filled with whole, healthy, organic food to set yourself up for snacking success. If you are juggling work, home, kids, and after-school activities, you may want to prepackage portable and healthy snacks so you can grab and go.
When you listen to your body and make the right nutrition choices, you will enjoy snacking. After all, everything tastes better bite-sized.