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Most of us live with some form of inner conflict over what we eat. I grew up eating 3 healthy meals a day plus snacks and occasionally some kind of dessert after dinner. My mom didn’t buy processed food, sugary cereals, individually packaged snacks, cookies etc. She was a stay at home mom for most of my childhood so she baked cookies, date squares, sliced fruit for us.
Made pancakes from scratch, and put together balanced and delicious meals. My parents have always set a great example in the fitness department too, staying very active and encouraging my sister and I to be involved in outdoor activities. I think they gave me all the tools I needed to have a healthy attitude toward diet and exercise. Still, I struggle at times.
I’m currently trying to lose those last ten pounds of baby weight, and my brain keeps trying to get me to stop snacking, even though I know that is wrong. The word snacks evokes guilt, and the idea that it is unnecessary, extra food. I’m working hard to banish that idea and instead think in terms of food as fuel and eating small meals throughout the day.
It’s been proven that we keep our blood sugar more stable, avoid extreme feelings of hunger, and avoid overeating if we eat every 2 ½ to 3 hours.
The trick is choosing the right snack foods. Ideally snacks should be balanced just like your other meals. Try to combine foods that offer complex carbs, high fiber, protein and good fats. Aside from the obvious nutritional reasons, you will feel satisfied and full longer, and your energy levels won’t fluctuate like they would if you just grabbed a candy bar or a bag of chips.
Here are some great ideas for those smaller meals that we need to stop referring to as snacks!
Blend your own favorites and measure out single ounce servings into snack size ziplocs. This is an ideal energy booster, offering about 170 calories broken down into 6 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of fat.
These tend to be higher in carbs because of the dried fruit but you can create your own mix and make it heavier on the nuts. I like to avoid ingredients like sesame sticks and banana chips and sub in semisweet dark chocolate chips. I need to eat a small amount of chocolate every day, whether I’m trying to lose weight or not!
I usually make up a large batch of oatmeal and keep it in the fridge so I can heat up a single serving when I feel like it.
I add ground flaxseeds for extra fiber and chopped walnuts for protein.
Pretend Ice Cream
Blend a tablespoon of Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of light sour cream. Flavor it with a little pure vanilla extract and a bit of agave for sweetness. Stir in a cup of frozen blueberries or raspberries so they are coated.
I love buttered popcorn so I blend a small amount of butter with olive oil and hot sauce, my favorite is tabasco chipotle. Tossed with freshly popped corn, this is a terrific snack. The hot sauce slows me down so I don’t eat it too fast.
Jennifer Hawkins is a professional chef and writer who specializes in recipes with nuts. She loves to write about nutrition and healthy ways to eat delicious food.
Photo Credit: www.bluewaikiki.com