As a rule of thumb, I try to make sure that I eat a well-balanced diet, high in raw and cooked plant-based, whole foods, and I try to only snack when necessary. Although there are some “negatives” to snacking too often, snacking can be very beneficial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
So, how does one avoid going on a “snack attack” and eating everything (bad) in sight? Here are a few guidelines:
#1 Reach for the bottle
No, I don’t mean the wine bottle! Did you know that most of us are dehydrated and that often, our body mistakes thirst and symptoms of dehydration as “hunger pangs”? In fact, according to Medical Daily (http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393) about 75% of Americans are essentially “functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.” It may be tempting to grab a bite to eat straight away, but rather get into the habit of first drinking water, waiting a while to see if the “hunger pangs” subside”. This may be all you need!
#2 Be Prepared!
You’ve had a big glass of water but after a few minutes, those familiar stomach grumblings are back. It may take some time to get into the habit, but proper planning is the best way to ensure that you will nourish your body long-term while keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Snack prep could be as simple as combining your own trail mix or grabbing an apple and a small container of nut butter, or it may require a bit more effort such as making a batch of delicious homemade hummus or powerballs the evening before. Either way, your body will thank you for being proactive!
#3 Remove Temptations
If you are a stay-at-home parent or work from home, make sure that you have removed all processed foods and those lacking essential nutrients from your home (e.g. crisps, chocolates, sweets, biscuits). These are all way too tempting in those moments when you feel your blood sugar levels dropping and are in a hurry to grab a bite to eat – believe me, I’ve been there!
#4 Replace Temptations with the “Good Stuff”
Fill your home with easy-to-access, nutrient-dense foods such as a bowl of colourful fruit on the counter (the quickest and easiest way to nourish your body!), a jar of nuts in your pantry or a tub of powerballs in your freezer. These have saved me from many-a-bad-choice in snacks when the cravings hit.
What if you work in an office or away from home? Nothing stops you from placing the same snacks within easy-reach (or even keeping a small stock in your bag), no excuses!
#5 Don’t Wait Too Long Between Meals and Eat Enough at Each Meal
In order to maintain your blood-sugar levels, you need to make sure that you eat a proper meal at the right time. By proper, I mean a meal high in nutrients which will leave you feeling satisfied (but not uncomfortably full).
Everyone is different, but personally, I find that if I eat a good breakfast around 7am before I leave for work (normally a smoothie with some added plant-based protein powder or nuts/seeds) I will be satisfied until lunch time (around 12:30pm). Sometimes I will have a piece of fruit and/or a handful of seeds or nuts and some dates/raisins around 10am if I start feeling really hungry or lightheaded. After lunch (my biggest meal of the day – usually a large “loaded” salad with a side of quinoa/rice/sweet potatoes/beans etc), I find I don’t need to snack before suppertime (around 6pm). Plant-based whole foods such as brown rice, lentils and beans can keep one satisfied and satiated for a long time. My supper will normally be a small salad or something light such as a fresh juice or even another smoothie. In winter I may have soup or rice cakes with avo/hummus. Because I eat around the same time every day and I make sure I have eaten enough, I have found that my blood-sugar levels rarely drop. On weekends or days when I am not following my usual routine and go for longer periods before eating, I start feeling the hunger pangs come on. This has made me realize how important it is to eat on time and not when I have reached the stage of “I am so hungry I will just eat this….. (insert unhealthy food choice)!”
***In Part 3, Ideas and Recipes for Healthy and Nutritious Snacks***
Hashtag Fusion: 10 Light and Healthy Afternoon Snacks
“Perfect Health: The Natural Way” by Mary-Ann Shearer