Everything You Need (& Want) To Know About Healthy Snacking a.k.a. Why I Believe in Snacking If It’s Done Right (& Right Doesn’t Mean You Can Never Let Loose!)

Everything You Need (& Want) To Know About Healthy Snacking a.k.a. Why I Believe in Snacking If It’s Done Right (& Right Doesn’t Mean You Can Never Let Loose!)

Hi lovies! 

<3

As promised, let’s talk all about HEALTHY SNACKING. Before we get into it, I just want to put it out there that this is what works FOR ME. I am not a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist & I’m not saying this is the only way to snack. I’m just giving you guys an outlook on my view regarding healthy snacking based on the research that I’ve done & more importantly, based on my personal experience. 

I feel like this is something we all struggle with whether it be because:

  • we don’t eat enough throughout the day & get hunger spasms where we simply want to binge on everything in sight;
  • we don’t prep things in advance & we tend to go for the unhealthy, quick options;
  • we don’t realize how important it is to keep our bodies nourished & fuelled throughout the day;
  • we’re too busy to stop & take a break to focus on ourselves & our bodily needs;
  • we simply don’t know where to start! (P.S. That’s why I’m here!!!).

Snacking is sometimes a controversial topic.

  • A lot of people believe in it when done in moderation (obviously) because it’s a great way to help you get in all the nutrients you need to stay healthy & keep you energized throughout the day.
  • Others will say it’s unnecessary & a (dangerous) opportunity to munch too much until it gets out of hand.

I’m one of those people who believe in the first school of thought.

As long as it’s done RIGHT (& I will get to that shortly), healthy snacking can actually be beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • It can help keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels stable throughout the day, especially if you’re someone who finds that your energy levels drop between meals, if you have an intense workout regimen going on or if you simply have long & busy work/school days & need fuel to sustain you & get you through the day!
  • It lets you pace yourself & curbs feeling of hunger so that you eat balanced portions when it’s time for your main meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner!
  • It gives you something to look forward to throughout the day & doesn’t make you feel deprived & restricted to JUST your three meals.

A few keys to healthy snacking are:

  • choosing the foods wisely!
  • watching the portion sizes!
  • basing the number of snacks you need on your activity/energy/expenditure level!
  • being prepared for when the hunger strikes!
  • eating INTUITIVELY, a.k.a. only when you are hungry!
  • going for nutrient-rich foods & filling combos of protein & fibre to hold you over until your next meal!
  • avoiding processed, high-sugar empty snacks that will give you a temporary boost of energy, but will bloat you, hurt your gut & do all sorts of other ugly things to your insides & make you feel hungry an hour or two later!

Before we discuss my little tips & pointers regarding snacking & then get into the snack suggestions/options, let’s just discuss what INTUITIVE EATING IS. I feel like I talk about it all the time but I’m not sure if I ever really explained it!

INTUITIVE EATING

Basically, I’ve said this once (or a million times) & I’ll say it again, there really are no QUICK FIXES when it comes to health & nutrition. Although we’re all human & all our bodies are made up of the same vital organs, WE’RE ALL DIFFERENT. WE ALL FUNCTION DIFFERENTLY. & OUR BODIES ALL HAVE DIFFERENT NEEDS.

I also believe that there is no “magic diet” that will make you feel your absolute best. Call me biased, but I absolutely despise the word “diet”. Whether you’re on that low-carb, paleo, ketogenic, clean-eating, raw food, low calorie, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, zero processed foods bandwagon… ALL OF THESE THINGS AHVE ONE THING IN COMMON: RESTRICTION! And Lord knows, restriction is a HORRIBLE feeling. It makes you feel deprived, unhappy & worst of all, makes you develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

I genuinely believe that as human beings, in order to feel our best, we need to FEEL FREE & ENJOY ALL FOODS, in moderation. & More importantly, we need to develop the ability to do so without feeling guilty, overthinking, obsessing or counting. In order to do that, we must reconnect with our bodies & this is where INTUITIVE EATING COMES IN. In a nutshell, it really just means, eating like a normal, rational human being.

It’s defined as a “nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signal is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy & fats in foods“. The goal is really to get to a point in your life where you can make food choices without experiencing guilt or ethical dilemmas or questions, where you learn to honour your hunger, respect your fullness & ENJOY FOOD!

The crazy part is that we are actually all born as natural intuitive eaters. Think about babies who cry when they’re hungry. They are then fed & they’ll proceed to cry AGAIN when they feel hungry. Food isn’t just fuel for them. THEY ARE SOOTHED & COMFORTED when they are breastfed. Kids also grow up as intuitive eaters. Some kids have bigger appetites than others, but at the end of the day, how many times have you looked back on your childhood & thought of memories of comfort foods that your mom used to make all the time that actually made you HAPPY & put the biggest smile on your face? TONS, RIGHT?

It isn’t until rules & restrictions are set around food that we lose our inner intuitive eater. We live in a society that promotes the diet mentality day in & day out. We learn to finish the entire plate because it’s there. We learn to eat at certain times because we associate those times with meals. We learn that in order to eat dessert, we have to earn it. We learn that we have to eat our veggies before we get the chocolate cake. But, like all things in life, strict rules, deprivation & restrictions, even as kids, usually backfire & lead to rebelling.

Intuitive eating really all boils down to:

  • Developing intentions to GUIDE YOUR EATING & HEAL YOU’RE RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD.
  • LISTENING TO YOUR BODY & EATING WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD.
  • Allows you to build a relationship of trust with yourself & your body that may have gotten lost along the way (after years of fad diets, restriction, binging, starvation, etc.).
  • Connecting back to your body’s cues, rather than your rational mind, as well as taking inspired action.
  • Getting rid of the diet mind & mentality & developing a healthy relationship with food.

Doing all of those things will help you ENJOY FOOD (& not only view it as fuel), reduce bloating, starvation, feelings of deprivation & feeling dissatisfied in a love-hate relationship with food.

KAY, so that went on a bit longer than expected. Sorry guys! But I hope that at least now, you have a better understanding of what it means to eat intuitively.

And now that you’ve got that knowledge, let’s discuss a few tips & pointers regarding snacking in general. Then, we’ll get into the snack ideas. PROMISE! 

  • If you know that you’re someone who has a tendency to eat half the bag/box/container of whatever it is you’re eating (even if it’s a healthy option), try to buy small packages of food or prepare your own portioned out baggies of your go-to snacks! Avoid snacking DIRECTLY from the container/bag/box because sometimes, especially if you’re occupied doing something else at the same time, you won’t even realize it & half the contents will be gone… & IN YOUR STOMACH. (As you guys know, I’m a firm believer in the idea of meal prepping & I find that, especially if you are just starting out on your health journey, it can be a useful first step to get you into a routine!).
  • Eat slowly! This applies not only to snacking, but also to all your meals! Eating slowly allows you to pace yourself & to eat intuitively. It will help you realize & acknowledge when you are satisfied & full. If you scarf everything down, you don’t give your body or brain enough time to process the food & this often leads to overeating.
  • If you’re somebody who just NEEDS your sweets when it comes to snacks, you can still have them. As you guys know, I’m really not about completely eliminating food groups, especially if it’s something you LOVE & CRAVE. All this to say, you can still have them, but in MODERATION. If you need a cookie, cake, chocolate, some ice cream, chips etc., you can do one of two things:
    • Make (or buy) healthier options of these foods. THERE ARE ALWAYS HEALTHIER OPTIONS. I have tons of healthy (but still very satisfying) cookie/cake/brownie/energy ball/chips & yes, even ICE CREAM, recipes up on my blog that you can get inspired by. Making/buying healthier options will open your eyes to the world of eating healthy without feeling deprived & will allow you to eat larger quantities of your FAVE stuff & feel good about doing it (& after doing itbecause they aren’t loaded with processed garbage, refined sugars & flours & preservatives).
    • BUT, if you STILL need your slightly unhealthier versions of these foods because YOU JUST DO, you can also cut your portions of these snacks & combine them with a healthier option, for example:
      • IF YOU NEED YOUR COOKIES, instead of having 2 or 3, have 1 with a piece of fruit, or
      • IF YOU’RE A CHIP GAL/GUY, portion out a small serving of chips (DO NOT EAT THEM FROM THE BAG) & have them with some crunchy raw veggies (carrots, celery, raw cruciferous veggies), which will still satisfy that CRUNCH factor that you’d normally get from chips!
      • IF YOU NEED YOUR ICE CREAM, again, DO NOT EAT IT OUT OF THE TUB! Put a serving of it in a bowl & top it with some fresh/frozen fruit & some homemade granola/muesli or a store-bought kind made with ingredients that you stand by! (My fave store-bought with ingredients I can trust is Purely Elizabeth!)
  • Try to drink water with your snacks, as opposed to drinking sodas, soft drinks & fruit juices. They are very high in refined sugars, contain tons of chemicals & preservatives & OTHER BAD STUFF, for which I could go on for days, BUT THEY ARE BASICALLY ALSO EMPTY CALORIES AS THEY ARE SUPER LOW IN NUTRIENTS.
  • Learn to eat intuitively. Recognize true hunger & fullness. Skip the urge to nibble when you’re bored, tired, upset or stressed. IF YOU START TO DO THAT, take a second to calm down, think, reflect on what you’re feeling & find a coping mechanism or distraction technique that doesn’t involve binging (unless of course, YOU’RE ALL OF THOSE THINGS & HUNGRY TOO! THEN EAT!). You can go for a run (if your health situation or medical state permits it), read a book, write in a journal, do some research online, listen to music, spend time with a family member or friend, watch a TV show etc.
  • If you’re going to snack while watching TV (specifically, NETFLIX), working or studying on the computer, reading or driving & let’s be honest, WE ALL DO, BEWARE OF MINDLESS EATING. Mindless eating happens when we are so occupied by something else that we don’t really realize just how much we are consuming, UNTIL WE FEEL THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL/BAG OF POTATO CHIPS. This can often lead to people eating more than they would if they were actually paying attention. It happens to the best of us. BUT, there are ways to control it. If you’re going to snack while doing those activities, try to stick to healthier alternatives, such as crunchy veggies, kale chips, popcorn (But: be weary of your ingredients list. Stick to popcorn that contains non-hydrogenated oils, no added sugars, preservatives or GARBAGE. I like to stick to the ones that contain good oils, sea salt or Himalayan salt, nutritional yeast & other spices!)
  • Speaking of ingredients, LEARN TO READ YOUR LABELS & SERVING SIZES. Make sure the ingredients listed are ingredients you stand by, that you are okay with feeding your body & that you know won’t make you feel like crap.
    • Choose foods with lower % daily-value of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol & sodium & choose foods & opt for foods with a higher % DV of fibre, vitamins A & C, calcium & iron!
    • Try to make a conscious effort to stay away from refined & added sugars, refined flours, excessive sodium, hydrogenated & partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fats), gums, fillers & binders (Unless you are switching over to a COMPLETE NO-PACKAGED FOODS diet, which BTW, I do not believe in, as you know, this will be difficult to do entirely. My take on it is to really pick & choose what you’re okay with & what you aren’t based on your own personal experience & how you feel when you eat certain foods over others!). Unfortunately, we live in a society where MOST FOODS are packaged & trying to eliminate them entirely is tiring, demotivating, extremely time-consuming & nearly impossible with all the hustle & bustle of our daily lives. Do your research & make this effort progressively. Don’t shock your body or your mind!

AND SOMETIMES… LET YOURSELF INDULGE.

Don’t read the ingredients, the labels, the nutrition facts, calorie or fat content or daily-value %.STOP CARING. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff, ALL THE FREAKING TIME. You’re human. You have a right to let loose & be a kid again sometimes. 

AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR…

DRUMROLL PLEASE…

Some of my favourite snack options include:

  • Rice cakes/crackers/crispbreads topped with one or two of my homemade spreads (such as: my homemade vanilla cinnamon almond butter, cacao mocha & date spread, banana peanut butter, homemade mixed berry vanilla cinnamon jam, homemade healthy Nutella etc.) & some fresh sliced strawberries or pears/berries & then sprinkled with some cinnamon.

That’s it my loves!!!!

  • MODERATION & BALANCE!
  • EATING FOR BENEFITS! (not just for fuel!)
  • RECONNECT WITH YOUR BODY & DEVELOP A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD!
  • KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING & WHY!
  • CHOOSE YOUR FOODS WISELY & CONTROL YOUR PORTIONS!
  • GET TO KNOW YOURSELF & YOUR BEHAVIOURS REGARDING SNACKING!
  • SATISFY CRAVINGS!
  • EAT TO SUSTAIN YOUR ENERGY OUTPUT/EXPENDITURE!
  • (SOMETIMES) INDULGENCE!
  • FINDING WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!
  • EATING INTUITIVELY!
  • READING YOUR LABELS!
  • ENJOYING FOOD!
  • FINDING HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES!
  • PREPPING YOUR SNACKS! (especially when you’re busy & on-the-go!)
  • MAKING AN EFFORT TO GO HOMEMADE!

FINALLY. YOU MADE IT TO THE END.

NOW, TIME FOR A WELL-DESERVED HEALTHY SNACK!


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