When it comes to snacking, there are various views on whether or not it’s beneficial to health. Some theories say snacking is bad as it never gives the stomach time to fully rest and completely digest its previous meal and that snacking between meals leads to weight gain. Others believe that eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day is a healthy way to maintain energy levels as well as improve metabolism, therefore helping achieve ones optimal weight.
Whether snacking is the correct diet for you depends on your individual body type. Whether part of your daily diet or just an occasional “snack attack”, the key is to prepare yourself with healthier choices.
Many of my clients say they snack or eat in unhealthy ways because they have not prepared any healthy options for when they are hungry. They choose convenient snack foods, many of which are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, damaging fats and refined sugars. When a snack attack hits you, try foods that are filling and satisfying, but also nutritious.
Quick and easy snacks:
- Fruit and veggies - choose celery, apples or carrots along with a dip such as hummus or nut butter. This really helps to satisfy the crunchy craving that may cause you to reach for a bag of potato chips.
- Baked yam chips: slice some yams into chip sized pieces and bake on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes at 350°. These are a great snack to carry around with you. They stay good in the fridge for 4 days. You can also use them instead of a cracker, spreading them with a nut butter or some tahini and honey.
- Have some whole grain crackers or rice cakes on hand spreading them with peanut butter and sliced banana. Spread a savory Hummus or a sweet fruit spread.
- Make some popcorn and instead of salt and butter spice it up with some curry powder, cumin or cayenne. For a sweet corn, mix it with some 100% pure maple syrup.
- Edamame in a pod is available at the frozen food section. This is a great snack to eat with a sprinkling of sea salt while watching a movie.
- Instead of a candy bar upgrade to some fruit and nuts. You can buy a trail mix or make your own by mixing up your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
- If it is ice cream you’re craving….well, this month’s recipe is for you! You can also substitute ice cream with freezing your own favorite yogurt or have a serving of
cool applesauce with cinnamon.
Why are you snacking?
Try to understand why you are snacking and which snacks work best for your body. Perhaps you snack because your daily diet is high in sugar or processed and pre-packaged foods or because you are eating too little at meals. These things leave your body lacking in essential nutrients causing the body to crave the nutrients it still needs. You might be snacking to soothe jangled nerves when you are emotional, or to entertain yourself when you are bored. Whatever your reason, acknowledge it and start thinking about how to create a life that is fully nourishing and truly satisfying.
Although snacks are no real substitute for emotional nourishment, they can be great energy boosters, mood lifters and a healthy and fun way to keep your body fully nourished, as long as you snack on foods that actually meet your body’s needs. Snacks that are high in nutrition will give you a greater sense of satiety and satisfaction; you won’t feel physically or psychologically deprived, and you’ll have plenty of energy to sustain your activities for hours.
There are many granola and power bars on the market that are no better than a candy bar. Here are a few of the better choices to be found:
- Lara Bars and Cliff Nectar Bars are a simple combination of dates with certain nuts and spices for flavor.
- Greens Plus offers ingredients such as sprouts, superfoods, probiotic cultures, and medicinal herbs.
- Organic Food Bar is based on almond butter and dates sweetened with natural wholesome sweeteners and depending on the flavor, offer brown rice protein, various sprouted seeds and grains, different superfood greens, and various berries.
- Oskri bars offer a sesame seed bar which is sweetened with natural sweeteners. Try the simple sesame seed and date syrup, or one of the other bars which is mixed with various other fruits and nuts.
Food Focus: Fruit
A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season fruits that grow in harmony with your environment. These fruits balance the effects that the current local climate has on your body.
Eating fresh fruit in the summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, followed quite quickly by an energy crash. Frozen, whole, pureed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!
Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature's sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:
- Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.
- Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body, and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).
- Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism, and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.
- Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.
- Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound. A few seeds swallowed with water can aid digestion.