February is National Snack Month!
Can I snack and still… be healthy, lose weight or maintain weight? For many, the thought of snacking sends shivers down their spine, for others, snacking is what makes the world go round. How does one go about snacking successfully? Snacking really is a good thing, in fact, February is National Snack Month. Here at iLiveWell Nutrition in Austin, TX, we spend time sharing with our clients that it is okay to snack. In fact, it’s good for you.Seriously, for the non-believers, snacking is healthy. These three simple words that tell you it’s okay to eat between meals and the world won’t end! In past generations, snacking was thought to contribute to weight gain, poor eating habits, or ruining your appetite for an upcoming meal.
We have learned that not only is snacking a good part of your healthy eating plan but has medical benefits as well.
Snacking provides an energy boost between meals and helps to manage hunger. Snacking also provides fuel which creates more mental clarity, cuts down on cravings for junk food and produces an overall feeling of well-being.Let’s look at a few myths about snacking:
- Snacking is unhealthy – It’s not snacking that is unhealthy. It is what we snack on and how much we eat. An apple and an ounce of cheese are a perfectly healthy snack. Three donuts, not so much. If you know how to snack, then you will reap the benefits of snacking.
- Snacking ruins your appetite – If you graze all day long and never feel truly satisfied, then snacking could be an issue. But if you are eating a well-balanced snack that means you will less likely to be starving at the next meal.
- Snacking on foods with fat is B.A.D. – This is not true. We all require fat in our diets. Fat gives us energy and helps our bodies absorb nutrients. Fat also provides us with vitamins A, D, E and K. Choosing healthy fats is in our best interest, such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, and even dark chocolate. So, get on the band wagon and don’t be afraid of healthy fats.
From a physical/medical standpoint, snacking is relevant in keeping a person’s blood sugar at an optimal range.In our practice, we often hear these words from our clients, “I’m not a diabetic. What do I care about blood sugar?” Blood sugar levels play an important role in how we all feel throughout the day.
Perhaps your day got off to a fast start and you only had time to gulp a bit of coffee and have three bites of that day-old donut on the counter. What happens to your body over the next few hours is paramount in how you are going to feel.Your blood sugar is going to do a quick rise and then a quick fall, long before you get to lunchtime. How do you feel now? Sleepy? Slow? In some strange brain fog? Yes, yes and yes, because you don’t have enough proper fuel to run your body machine!
How do you fix that? Have a snack between meals to keep your blood sugar at a level that is consistent with feeling energized and ready to meet the tasks at hand.
What should a snack look like?
A snack consisting of a serving of fruit or carbohydrate and a serving of protein and even a healthy fat is optimal. The protein will help balance out the sugar in fruits or carbohydrates (yes, carbohydrates turn into sugar in our bodies, whether they are sweet or not), keeping that blood sugar at an optimal level. Let’s get our snack on!Try some of these snack ideas:
- Apple and cheese
- Pita bread and peanut butter
- Hummus and veggies
- Hard-boiled egg and grapes
- Crackers and sliced avocado
- Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Dark chocolate and almonds
Some added tips on snacking...If you stick to choosing a protein and a fruit or carbohydrate, your body should feel satisfied and give you the fuel you need to carry on throughout the day.
Did you know that most people need to eat every three to four hours? That means your day should consist of breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and then dinner. If you eat dinner more than three or four hours before you go to bed, you may want to consider an evening snack.If you find yourself over-snacking and are not sure if you’re eating for emotional reasons or not, download our free checklist: 8 Traits of Emotional Eating.Following these guidelines will keep your body fueled, creating stable blood sugar, less brain fog, less mid-day crash, and best of all, you will certainly feel great.
If you are in the Austin area, give us a call at 512-693-7045 to learn more about how to fuel your body for your own personal needs. When you stop by our office, you will always find a good snack for your enjoyment!
Our registered and licensed dietitians at iLiveWell Nutrition are here to help with your nutritional needs, covering everything from eating disorders, nutritional counseling, health related nutritional needs and a host of other food-based needs or issues.We provide our clients with a unique plan that is based on their specific needs, using a positive and supportive approach to helping our clients live a healthy life.
Remember, February is National Snack month! Go out and enjoy a full variety of healthy snacks, fueling your body in a way that will make you feel fabulous!