Snacking can get a bad reputation for a variety of reasons, the main one being the typical grocery store "snack" isle. Usually, when we think of snacks, we think of chips, crackers, cookies, and other "junk food" items. However, snacking should not be shamed, because snacks can actually lead us to better health, better blood sugar balance, and more control over our food cravings.
How many times have you let ravenous hunger dictate your food choices? Been there, done that. Back in my dieting days, I'd try to go for as long as possible without eating, because that was success right? Eating less equaled weight loss in my brain, so I went hours without food, only to feel dizzy, lethargic, and reaching for the nearest food that would give me the fastest sugar rush. It really wasn't my fault, because our body will physiologically crave a quick sugar source when we let ourselves get that hungry and that low blood sugar, which is typically candy or a sweet/carbohydrate that is probably not the healthiest option. After years of frustration and the up and down cycle of dieting (so NOT the way to live, my friends), I've learned how to tame that sugar beast before it gets out of hand...and a big part of that taming process has been smart snacking!
The best foods to snack on are fruits and vegetables, because not only do they have tons of fiber to keep us full, they contain a bounty of antioxidants, vitamins, and micronutrients, that will satisfy us. Calories are not everything, because if we eat foods that are void of MICROnutrients, they won't satisfy us and we will still be left with hunger. But eating plant-foods, such as fruits and vegetables, will satisfy our micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) needs, and help us feel satisfied AND full. Win-win!
Another great option for snacking is a food that contains healthy fats...such as nuts. Nuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids which not only help us keep full, but are also great for our brains. Omega-3's have also been seen to fight anxiety and depression, so why not grab these at 3pm when work stress is at an all high and you need a boost of energy?
My favorite nuts to reach for are almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, and more recently during this pregnancy, pistachios. And please, don't be afraid of the fat in nuts. It would make my dietitian-heart very sad. Fat does not make us fat! On the contrary, healthy fats help balance our blood sugars and keep us full, and are so beneficial to our health. If you get anything out of this blog post it's this: don't fear the fat!
And then sometimes, these types of snacks happen too, and that's totally ok. Of course, I would recommend keeping these snacks as "sometimes" snacks vs. "everyday" snacks, but sometimes, you gotta have the cookie, guilt free, and then move on with your day and not let that one cookie turn into a full-out binge fest. This took me years to master, and actually I'm not even a master at it yet, because I still overeat from time to time and then think back and say "hmm, lesson learned, I'll listen to my hunger better next time." Each set back along this journey is a learning lesson in my opinion, so instead of beating yourself up, think about what you can LEARN from a situation, even snacking-gone-bad, and build on that experience.
So go on and have a snack today, and see how much better and more energized you'll feel between your meals. And as always, reach out to me if you need additional support or have any questions!