Why do we snack? Why does that urge to crunch and munch or scream for ice cream come so frequently?
The reasons for snacking vary on day, person, purpose, etc. Snacking is often a response to stress, boredom, hunger, skipping meals, or blood sugar fluctuations. It could be a lack of planning or time to prepare meals.
Sometimes, even when our meals are healthy and we’re exercising regularly, the urge to snack can creep in and get in the way of health goals and healthy eating. This may be an old habit that is hard to beat.
Snack foods are typically thought of as pre-packaged foods, which almost always means quick, easy to digest processed carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are what help pack on the pounds and throw off blood sugar levels, so instead of reaching for crackers or granola bars (which, most are glorified candy bars), aim for snacks that are balanced in protein and fat to help stabilize blood sugar and provide longer lasting fuel.
The more we eat unhealthy junk foods, the more we crave them – they’re sneaky like that. That’s because these are often the perfect combination of fat and sugar to trigger the pleasure centers in the brain. The most effective way to reduce and ultimately demolish those cravings for unhealthy foods is to eat fresh, whole foods — even at snack times. Having these foods available, while reducing the temptations of cookies, crackers or bars, is an important piece to the puzzle of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Are you ready to change your snacking habits?
The first important task to complete is to brainstorm and jot down your typical go-to’s for snacking. What do you generally reach for when you need a small snack? What do you purchase at the grocery store each week for your snacks? Realizing our patterns is the first step to changing and tweaking them.
Secondly, start brainstorming ideas for new, healthy snacks that you can have around regularly. Elevate your current snacks. For instance, if you usually have crackers and cheese – elevate that to cucumbers and cheese, or add hummus. If you gravitate towards creamy sugar filled yogurts, try satisfying that creamy craving with an avocado (sprinkled with sea salt and lemon juice) or a delicious smoothie. Elevating your plate is often an easy to way to step up your plan, while avoiding that annoying feeling of deprivation.
Some simple, healthy snacks to have on hand include:
- Fresh, raw veggies such as celery and carrots
- Fresh fruit such as apple slices, bananas, grapes or melon
- Raw nuts, nut butter, and dried fruit
- Low carb crackers like whole grain, cauliflower or nut based with dips like guacamole, cashew cheese or hummus
- Green smoothies (vegetables + fruits)