By Jillian Greaves, MPH, RD, LDN
Today we’re talking about one of my favorite topics…snacking! Snacks are one of the most important parts of our diet, but often one of the most overlooked. I find that many people either avoid snacking, which can lead to low energy levels and becoming overly hungry at meals, or rely on whatever they can grab at work or in the vending machine (not always the most satisfying experience!).
So why should you care about snacks? Isn’t eating 3 meals a day enough? Snacks bridge the gap between meals, help to support stable blood sugar and energy levels, promote mental clarity, and prevent you from becoming overly hangry before your next meal. I like to think of snacks as “mini meals” or an another opportunity to include nutritious foods into the day. The ideal snack will include a balance of foods that are both satisfying and energizing (and not make you feel like you need a nap at your desk!).
Below are some tips for snacking smarter:
1. Recognize signs of hunger before getting overly hungry. Consider having a snack when you feel slightly hungry, opposed to waiting until you feel extremely hungry.
2. Incorporate two food groups at snacks. A combination of carbohydrates + protein or carbohydrates + healthy fats is like extended release energy for the body.
3. Plan ahead. Spend a few minutes each night setting out/preparing snacks for the next day. Think about your schedule and how many snacks you might need for a long day.
4. Establish a consistent routine for fueling between meals. Eating consistent meals and snacks every 3-4 hours will improve energy levels and prevent you from becoming overly hungry.
5. Make healthy snacks easily accessible. Keep non-perishable snacks in your bag, car, and at work for access to quick fuel when needed.
Cheddar cheese stick + a peach + almonds
Hummus + bell pepper slices + sesame rice crackers
Carrot sticks + nut butter
Boiled eggs + an orange
Cottage cheese + diced pineapple
Apple slices + nut butter + cinnamon
Turkey + cheese roll-ups
Trail mix with nuts + dried fruit + dark chocolate
Banana + peanut butter
Slice of sourdough bread + hummus + sliced tomato
Jicama sticks + guacamole
Jillian Greaves provides nutrition counseling to adults with a variety of conditions with a special interest in PCOS, gastrointestinal conditions and autoimmune disease, all through a non-diet, weight neutral approach. No matter the goal, she aims to support clients in making balanced and sustainable dietary changes that fit into their busy lives.