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Snacking is one of those things that seems so simple. If you’re hungry, eat! Some people snack all day long; others (like my dad) never snack. I rarely find myself hungry between breakfast and lunch (assuming I have a sizeable breakfast) but I almost always need something to get me to dinner. Most often I blame the longer gap between afternoon meals. Snacks sound so cute and small, but they can also innocently spoil meals and thicken waistlines. Below are some tips for smart snacking to help you navigate the path of hunger.
1) Balance out your day. Often I ask myself: “What I have already eaten today, and what could I use more of?” If I had yogurt for breakfast I try to think of another snack – fresh fruit and nuts perhaps. If I had bread at lunch I don’t choose toast for a snack. If I haven’t had any veggies yet I might make a green smoothie. Or if my day is lacking in dairy I’ll create a yogurt + granola bowl.
2) Eat real food. Duh, right? But snacks made of real food and healthier ingredients are going to most likely leave you feeling more satisfied than the more processed alternatives, especially if you keep calories equal. Think of the volumetrics concept of eating – fresh foods take up more space in your stomach. A bowl of blueberries mixed with maple almonds is likely to fill you up more than a can of soda and some crackers. Think fresh fruit, plain dairy, trail mixes, veggies in dip, whole grains, bars with ingredients you can pronounce, etc.
3) Pair carbohydrates, protein and fats together. The more of these three macronutrients you include, the more satisfied you are likely to feel. Carbohydrates give you energy, and protein and fat increase satiety. A snack that blends the three will easily get you to dinner. Think small smoothies with banana, milk, peanut butter or a trail mix made with dried fruit and nuts.
4) Start small. It is easy, however, to get carried away and keep adding ingredients to snacks. Listen to your hunger and ask yourself how much you really need. Unless you’re a mini-meal eater, the point of a snack is just to tide you over, so start small and add only if you feel you need more. I have spoiled my appetite for dinner way too many times because I got too excited about my snack creation. Thus I am working on snacking conservatively.
5) Keep good stock and plan ahead. Building on the “start small” thought, you’ll do better keeping snacks in check if you have options available and predict your hunger and snack behavior as best you can. Knowing I am always hungry around 4, I try not to let myself get too hungry and wait until 4:30 or 5 or I tend to overeat my snack. That almost always kills dinner.
Some of my favorite snacks can be found in this gallery of snacks : )
More about my experience with NatureBox can be found in this post!
This post is sponsored by NatureBox. With the code KERF10, you can also get $10 off your first box.