Kendra Thatcher, DTR
Culinary Program Facilitator
Snacking is not only inevitable, it’s essential. Several hours after we eat a large meal our blood sugar slowly decreases and we begin feeling tired. Hormones signal our brain and say “Hey, I need a pick me up! A little fuel, please!” So what do we do? We refuel with a snack giving our bodies just enough energy to recharge.
While this happens biologically, we need to be conscious about what we are snacking on. The question is then how can we properly prepare ourselves for the inevitable snack break? By following these few tips, you’ll see how easy it is to choose flavorful and nutrient-dense snacks instead of reaching for the convenient but nutrient-void options.
- Evaluate your schedule and your environment. This may be the most important tip I’ve ever given. Do an “evaluation” to really find what works for you and what doesn’t. To me, this is what makes the difference between making something lifestyle or not. Ask yourself the following:
- Where am I spending most of my time this week? In the car? At my desk? This helps us to think about appropriate packaging and if snacks need to be refrigerated until consumed, etc.
- When is my prep time and how much of it do I have? Morning? Evening? In the moment?
- Who else am I preparing snacks for? Kids? Spouse? Parent? What are their preferences? What are my preferences?
- Pack in your nutrients and pair up foods. Snacks are an opportunity to consume some of the nutrients we may not consume enough of in the standard three meals. If you were to do a general evaluation of your diet with your dietetic professional, you may see some gaps. Here is where you can make up for it!
- Up your fiber: Sprinkle fiber-dense chia seeds on your yogurt or add to your smoothie.
- Increase protein: Pair nuts with your fruit. Keep hard-boiled eggs in your refrigerator to throw in a to-go container as you run out the door.
- Get your antioxidants: Keep half pints of berries in your refrigerator for an easy snack – just wash and eat.
- Keep it interesting. Let’s be honest, we love things that are convenient and that taste good. Balancing these two with nutrition is easier than you might think. Depending on the amount of time you have for prep, here are some ideas:
- Whole Fruit: Change things up – try a pear instead of an apple, a few kiwis instead of a banana. Learn how to supreme citrus fruits like grapefruits and watch your consumption soar!
- Veggie sticks and dip: Cucumber or bell pepper sticks with a bit of hummus is easy. Keep pre-sliced veggies in sealed containers in your refrigerator and you will never be without a snack.
- Spice it up: Toss a small handful of nuts with your favorite spices. One of my favorites is cinnamon and nutmeg or even a little wasabi powder and curry! Lightly spray nuts with some oil so spices adhere. Feel free to lightly toast in oven.