You don’t need to feel bad when you snack! Most of us feel guilty when we want to snack, but that’s only because we often choose unhealthy, processed snacks like potato chips fried in canola oil, cheese snacks containing artificial, fake cheese with tons of additives, or cookies and ice cream with loads of refined sugar. You can feel good snacking by making some simple swaps or adjustments for healthier, but still delicious, options! Stay on track when you snack by easily turning your snacks into healthier, well-balanced, guilt-free mini “meals” instead of choosing foods that don’t nourish your body & make you feel like crap.
Why do we snack?
Often, we snack to fulfill some sort of craving or out of boredom. Cravings can be caused by not eating enough of the right foods during the day. When you don’t fuel your body with proper nutrition, your body looks to fulfill the lack of nutrients by alerting you that its hungry! One way to combat this is by eating 3 regular, well-balanced meals which contain sufficient protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats for your bio-individuality. This is considered a well-balanced meal. But, this can be difficult to do for some, and for others it can actually better to eat 4-5 small well-balanced healthy meals over 3 larger meals. If you’re someone who:
Has blood sugar regulation issues: for those who are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic, or diabetic, your body has trouble regulating blood sugar levels which are responsible for your energy, mood, and more. It’s better for you to eat something every 2 hours to avoid drops and spikes in blood sugar.
Has stomach problems: you don’t want to eat large, heavy meals, so spreading meals out over the day is better as it puts less of a strain on your digestive system.
Struggles with weight loss: instead of eating large meals, it can be better to eat smaller meals throughout the day to boost your metabolism. It’s also easier to eat more protein over the course of the day which can help with weight loss & create lean muscle mass.
For anyone that falls under 1 or more of these categories, it is recommended to enjoy 3 smaller healthy, well-balanced “main meals” and 1-2 healthy, well-balanced snacks—one between breakfast and lunch, and one between lunch and dinner—about 2 hours after a main meal.
What is a well-balanced snack & why is it better for your body?
A well-balanced snack would be similar to a well-balanced meal in that it contains some protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats. It is important to avoid eating carbs by themselves because when you do, they get broken down & digested by your body quickly, releasing the sugars from the carbs into your bloodstream and causing a blood sugar spike. This is great at first because you get this wonderful burst of energy, but shortly after, your blood sugar levels will drop rapidly causing you to feel extremely tired. However, when we eat carbs paired with protein, the protein helps to slow digestion and absorption so you don’t crash. Some examples of well-balanced snacks are:
Oatmeal with egg whites or protein powder mixed in, nut butter or nuts, and fruit
A piece of fruit with some nut butter
Fresh cut veggies with hummus
A slice of avocado toast with an egg
Making sure you’re eating enough throughout the day will help kick any late night cravings to the curb, and including 1-2 healthy snacks throughout the day makes this much easier to do!
Tips for making healthier snack choices.
Snacking doesn’t have to be difficult either! There are some simple tips you can implement to make it easier to choose healthier snacks throughout the day. And remember, no one is perfect, so it’s okay if you don’t choose healthy ALL the time. It is highly important to find a balance of healthy eating and enjoying foods you love so that you’re way of living is not restrictive as this can cause you to fall off track completely. Here are some easy tips you can start to do today to make better choices when possible:
Buy healthier snack options at the grocery store—what easier way to avoid unhealthy snacks than to not buy them?!
Read ingredient labels on boxed/bagged foods. Look for foods with less ingredients and ones you can pronounce! If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it because it’s most likely an artificial ingredient or chemical additive. Avoid colors (blue, yellow, red dyes) in foods as they’re toxic.
Avoid buying snacks with tons of sugar. The less the better! Try to stay less than 10-15g per serving.
When buying yogurt, plain is often better than flavored because of sugar and flavor additives. You can always add your own natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup and berries.
Choose chips cooked in avocado oil over canola oil. Canola oil is a “bad” oil that is hydrogenated and is proven harmful to the body, your cholesterol, and more. It is known to cause inflammation issues. Avocado oil is a healthy fat option which is beneficial for the body and supports a healthy inflammatory response.
Veggie chips make a great alternative to regular potato chips.
Choose whole foods over processed boxed/bagged foods.
Buy vegetables to cut up or pre-cut veggies for a quick, easy snack.
Buy fruit you like.
Dried fruit can be a good snack option.
Sweet potato slices can be used in place or crackers or bread.
Nuts are always an easy, filling, and portable snack
Buy healthier dips and spreads like hummus, guacamole, etc for your veggies, wraps, and more.
Have protein powder on hand.
Collagen protein is my #1 recommendation as you can buy it unflavored and stir it into anything & everything! Add it to your smoothies, yogurt, coffee, and more for a simple addition of protein to any snack. I recommend Vital Proteins.
Eat the rainbow.
Make sure you have a variety of different colored foods in your meals and snacks! If you notice you only have white and brown foods on your plate, add in some color when possible! You want to get the widest variety of nutrients and that is only possible with a variety of colors.
Sneak some greens in when possible.
I always have some type of leafy green on hand at home, typically baby spinach to easily throw into a smoothie. You don’t even taste it!
I like to cook them into my eggs in the morning.
You can add them into any wrap for some color & nutrients.
No one wants to constantly feel their stomach grumble, fatigue, brain fog, lethargic, moody, or irritable throughout the day! Choosing the right foods will ensure you’re feeling your best in terms of satiety, energy, and mood!
Take the guesswork out of making well-balanced snacks and start choosing healthier snacks today by downloading your FREE Healthy Snack Recipe Book which contains my top 4 easy-to-make go-to snacks.
Jenn Horowitz, FNTP, CPT is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer who works to address the root cause of illness. Jenn is the founder of JTH Wellness, a holistic health nutrition counseling practice specialized in helping people with stomach problems take control of their health through nutrition and lifestyle changes. Jenn works to support and educate others so that they can enjoy life again, pain and worry free. Learn more about Jenn’s nutrition counseling services and schedule a free 15-minute discovery session by visiting her website, http://www.JTHwellness.com.