Healthy snack ideas
We've got eight ideas for what to eat when you're feeling hungry or low on energy.
Tue, Feb 08, 2011 at 12:05 PM
Don’t reach for that doughnut just yet. Here are some guidelines for choosing healthy snacks.
When snacking, it’s a good idea to think about blood sugar levels. If you consume a sugary snack, chances are your blood sugar levels will spike. And although you may feel a temporary rush of energy and an elevated mood, you’ll most likely feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and experience a crash shortly after snacking on high-glycemic index foods.
After crashing, you’ll feel hungry again and repeat the vicious cycle.
A little background …
It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Therefore, when we eat snacks, we want to apply the same fundamental rule to that of each of your regular meals. (Hopefully, you’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, to maintain steady blood sugar and help burn fat.)
Our fundamental rule is that we always want to combine the following three macronutrients when eating:
- natural fat
Combining macronutrients ensures that you’ll feel full longer and won’t need to binge on sweets. In fact, if your regular meals have a good ratio of the three macronutrients, you might find you may not have to snack at all.
Pay attention to your body
Start paying attention to how you feel after eating a meal. If you feel full for three to four hours after eating and don’t have bloating or a drop in energy, then whatever you just ate is the right macronutrient proportion for you.
For example, a breakfast of two eggs, one piece of sprouted whole grain bread with a little dab of butter and two small slices of all-natural bacon may satisfy you for several hours.
To keep your blood sugar levels steady, it’s a good idea not to go more than four hours during the day without eating. So taking the breakfast example above, say, eaten at 8 a.m., you’ll want to eat lunch at about noon.
Maybe you don’t get home till 6 p.m. If you wait till then to eat dinner, you’ll likely be tired and cranky, so it’s a good idea to have a late afternoon snack.
What are some healthy snack choices?
Here are some examples of healthy snacks that combine all three macronutrients:
- Celery and raw almond butter: celery is a carbohydrate; almond butter is both protein and natural fat.
- Cheese and crackers: opt for grass-fed cheese for higher essential Omega 3 fatty acid content if possible and gluten-free rice crackers for less intestinal bloating.
- Hummus and carrot sticks: hummus contains a little protein and natural fat.
- Nitrate and nitrite-free jerky: contains protein and natural fat; you don’t always have to include a carbohydrate if you can digest meat efficiently.
- Edamame sprinkled with sea salt: edamame is the whole soybean and it contains both protein and essential trace minerals if sprinkled with sea salt.
- Greek yogurt: unless you’re on a restricted diet, go for the full-fat variety, which will keep you full for longer and includes all three macronutrients.
- Apple slices with honey and olives: perfect for those who crave sweet and salty.
- Organic turkey breast slice with crackers: turkey contains both protein and natural fat. (It’s easy to bring a package of healthy deli slices with you to work; just make sure your coworkers don't steal it!)
Even nutritionists, dieticians and health coaches fall off the wagon. If you do and reach for a doughnut, the best thing to do is to eat a little protein and natural fat (preferably before eating the doughnut) to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
But if you adopt these healthy snacking ideas, hopefully, your cravings for sugary junk food will subside.
Judd Handler is a freelance health reporter and certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist living in Encinitas, CA. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org