How to Incorporate Healthy Snack Choices In a Busy Life
Having snacks can be one of the biggest hindrances to achieving health goals no matter what you are trying to accomplish. Whether you are trying to lose fat, increase muscle or just make better nutrition choices, snacks are what tend to derail even the most health-conscious person. The thing that causes problems with healthy snack choices is poor planning. Let’s take a look at how to make better snack choices when you have a busy life.
Skipping Meals Slows Metabolism and Saps Strength
First and foremost. Don’t miss meals! I know it seems like a quick way to reduce calorie consumption, however, missing meals puts your body into a stress response. Your body thinks it is starving and slows your metabolism to conserve energy. Skipping a meal once won’t do it but if you continue to skip meals, your body may turn to muscle as a fuel source which will considerably slow your metabolism, sap your strength and put you at higher risk for injury.
Skipping meals can also mean that you are reducing the ability to get the sufficient quantity of vitamins and minerals your body requires to keep you healthy and your mind sharp. We all need an appropriate amount of macronutrients to stay on top of our game and keep our hormones in balance. The rule of thumb for a macronutrient balanced diet to keep us from craving unhealthy alternatives is 40% Carbs (complex), 30% Fat (90% poly or unsaturated, 10% Saturated), and 30% Protein (clean sources). Sticking to high-quality food sources to get the macronutrients will usually mean that you will also be getting the appropriate micronutrients to stay healthy. Take a multivitamin, recommended by your health practitioner, if you are worried about getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet.
You could try eating several “mini” meals throughout the day at regular intervals instead of skipping meals. Generally, this strategy will help the body utilize all of the calories you are ingesting rather than storing extra calories as “fuel” (fat) for a later date.
Keep in mind everyone is different, and this strategy may not work for you. Some people find that eating three square meals a day with no snacks in between works better for them. The best thing you can do is experiment with what works best for you for your lifestyle and schedule.
Find Your Healthy Snack on The Outside Aisles of the Grocery Store
Shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store … Most grocery stores follow a pattern where the outside peripheral aisles are meat, vegetables and fruit. You will find all the cookies, pop and chips in the middle aisles.
There is truth to the adage that if you see it, then you will eat it. Don’t tempt yourself with food that you know you shouldn’t or can’t consume. Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach either. You are more tempted to make poor snack choices if you are hungry when you are purchasing your groceries for the week.
Simply put, if you don’t have it available then it isn’t a choice. Encourage the people in your life to keep unhealthy snack choices out of your home as well. Make nutrition a family project because when you are working together as a team ice-cream, chips and chocolate won’t be around for your lows. Working together also helps to create an environment of teamwork and mutual encouragement which contributes to increasing your chances of success!
Snack Mindfully Not Emotionally
Many of the problems that come with having a snack revolve around stress eating. You always need to be mindful to ask yourself when going to have a snack if you are hungry. It seems like an obvious and straightforward question, but many of us don’t stop and think before we snack.
Anytime we consume food; calories increase, it’s simple math. The question to ask before you choose to eat is “Am I hungry?” Are you eating because you are bored, lonely, angry, tired, or sad? Many people tend to eat emotionally, and then they beat themselves up after which only keeps the circle of anger or despair going. So before you start looking for a snack that you don’t need, take yourself out of the danger zone. Distract yourself with other activities, have a glass of water or herbal tea.
Plan Ahead, Pack and Go Instead of Buying
Plan ahead for success! When you go grocery shopping ensure you pick up snacks that you can take with you. Make sure you remember that anything you snack on should still be “whole” foods.
The night before make sure you pack up everything needed for your lunch and healthy snack for the next day.
Make Healthy Choices
Many people are unaware of what a healthy snack should include. Make it a balanced part of your day. You need to treat snacks the same way as you do meals. The macronutrient breakdown is the same; 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein.
That is the problem with most “healthy” muffins and such. They are full of saturated fat and simple carbs. Which makes muffins an unhealthy choice if you are trying to eat in nutritional balance.
What do healthy snack choices look like, well that is going to depend on you! A healthy snack will be different depending on your dietary habits. Vegan, vegetarian or paleo are all specialty diets that would have a different view than say someone who was following a typical diet plan. I am going to list off some examples of different snack choices that you can take and make your own. Just keep in mind that you need to adjust your amounts depending on the macronutrients and what you are replacing. I find having an app that tracks my macronutrients to be helpful for making dietary choices.
1) Smoked Tofu, Ryvita and Avocado
2) Tuna, Olive Oil and Brown Rice
3) Apple, Almond Butter, Oatmeal
4) Cottage Cheese, Blueberries and Almonds
5) Greek Yogurt, Protein Powder and Strawberry Shake
6) Black Beans, Guacamole and Whole Grain Tortilla
7) Quinoa, Cucumber, Tomato and Avocado Oil
8) Cucumber, Tomato, Bulgur, Goat Cheese
9) Chicken Breast, Yams, Green Beans
10) Hummus, Carrots, Celery, Olive Oil
The choices are endless! Just be creative and make sure are balancing your nutrients!
Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL