Healthy and Super Easy On the Go Snacks
When I initially work with clients, I find people are willing to spend a lot of time planning breakfast, lunch, and dinners. They buy ingredients and try new recipes. They start to get the hang of healthy meals, but then wonder how to keep eating nutrient dense whole foods while on the run. They end up grabbing snacks that don’t support their wellness goals because they are on the run and are unsure of healthy nutrient dense options.
It is the snack times where I get the question – what do I eat? People are used to grabbing convenience food for snacks, but aren’t sure how to incorporate healthy grab and go foods.
Snacking is a large portion of our daily intake
Studies show that snacking contributes close to one-third of daily energy intake and many of these snacks lack nutrition. Choices of snack foods are affected by our need to run from activity to activity. We become hungry and then if we have not planned, we may find ourselves with little options but to grab a vending machine snack to keep us going.
Real Food for Snacks
While packaged foods are convenient, they are often loaded with additives, sugar, and simple carbohydrates. When you are embarking on a new way of eating to take care of your health, you don’t want to eat these empty foods. I go so far as to call these packaged snacks “non-food”. When you think about it, the ingredients list contains many items which you can’t pronounce and are definitely not food so “non-food” is a good description. For snacks, you want to find ways to eat whole foods, aka “real food”. There are lots of ways to do this, but you need to get used to the practice.
If you have a long time between meals, snacks can help to keep you satisfied and maintain your energy. Snacks can be helpful between meals from time to time. But, if you find yourself needing frequent snacks, you might want to look at your meals and notice if they are balanced. When you balance your meals with sufficient protein, fats, and carbohydrates, you will tend to stay satisfied longer and need to snack less frequently. This evens out your blood sugar so you feel full longer. Read more about macronutrient balancing at my previous blog:
What to Snack On
What whole “real” foods are best to have for snack to keep us full longer and inhibit overeating at meals?
One study looked at the effect of snacking on yogurt and then how much was eaten at the subsequent meal. The participants who ate Greek yogurt with 24 grams of protein, stayed fuller longer and ate less at subsequent meals than participants who had a snack lower in protein. Snacking on yogurt led to reduced hunger and increased fullness. If you do opt for yogurt as a snack, just make sure you read the label and avoid any added sugar. Most plain yogurts are sugar free and you can top off with a little sugar free jam or some fresh fruit and almonds.
Snacking for Weight Loss
When snacks help you to feel full longer (satiety), then snacking can decrease overeating at meals, which supports maintaining a healthy weight. Studies confirm that snacks increase satiety when are whole foods high in protein, fiber and whole grains. This includes foods like nuts, yogurt, prunes, and popcorn.
Foods naturally high in fiber or with added fiber increase satiety. One study compared the satiety levels of people who ate potato chips for snack versus those who ate popcorn and the people eating popcorn reported feeling fuller longer. Popcorn has 3.5 times more fiber than potato chips per calorie thus it helps you stay full longer.
One review of studies on snacking, confirmed that eating high-protein, high-fiber snack foods led to eating less calories at subsequent meals when compared with eating high-fat, high-sugar snack foods (“non-food”). Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy body weight, it is important to select quality snacks. You can read more details about these studies on snacking at:
Healthy Snack Ideas
Benefits of snacking include increasing satiety, stabilizing blood sugar, increasing or maintaining energy, and should be considered another opportunity to use food as medicine just like at our meal times. It is equally as important to be thoughtful with our snack food choices as it is to plan healthy meals.
With practice, it is possible to find nutrient dense and easy portable foods to have for snacks. At the same time, if you balance the macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) and include fiber your snacks will leave you feeling satisfied longer.
Some options to consider:
· Any fresh fruit or vegetable
· Chia seed pudding https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-chia-pudding/
· Raw vegetables (peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots) with hummus or guacamole
· Celery or carrot with nut butter or seed butter and dried fruit – think “ants on a log”
· Apple or pear with nut butter (you can get portable packets of nut butters)
· Air popped or stove popped popcorn in coconut oil (add seasonings/nutritional yeast)
· Homemade energy balls http://www.nomeatathlete.com/homemade-energy-bar-recipe/
· 1 handful raw, unsalted nuts and/or seeds
· Kale chips
· Hard-boiled eggs
· Organic corn tortillas with beans and avocado
· Grain free, sugar free granola with yogurt or chia seed pudding
· Trail mix
· Unsweetened yogurt with fresh fruits and raw, unsalted nuts or seeds
· Rx Bars
· Whole grain gluten free crackers with nut or seed butter
· Mary’s Gone Crackers with tuna, hummus, baba ganoush, pesto or veggie spread
· Dried chickpeas http://www.chow.com/recipes/30368-spicy-oven-roasted-chickpeas
· 1 oz raw unsalted nuts or seeds
· Seaweed snack
· Slice of nitrate free deli meat, roast beef wrapped in lettuce leaf
· Rice cakes with almond, apple or cashew butter
· RAW garden of life protein powder mixed with unsweetened almond milk
· Half cup steamed veggies with nutritional yeast and spray of olive oil and sea salt
· Half cup of frozen grapes, cherries, or blueberries
· High quality 1 oz 70% or higher chocolate bar, like Green and Black’s
· Handful of olives
· 8 oz Trader Joe’s boxed soup: Carrot Ginger or Red Pepper and Tomato
· 1 organic string cheese with ¼ cup of dried, unsweetened, unsulphured fruit
· ½ can black bean soup (such as Amy’s Black Bean Veggie)
· Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and a touch of lemon juice
Try some of these ideas and let me know in the comments section some of your own favorite healthy snacks.