Snacking can be a tricky nutrition topic because it’s not always just about food choices. Do you ever eat a snack and then feel like you’re hungry again shortly thereafter? Do you find yourself heading for comfort foods or sweets when you nibble? Or mindlessly snacking while watching television?
These habits are totally normal and can be fairly simple to transform. Here are a few tips to help you reach for wholesome snacks that will help give you a burst of energy and nourishment when you need it. Following these simple guidelines can help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Partake in culinary alchemy
Healthy snacking isn’t just about which foods you eat, it is also about how you think and feel about food. Practicing mindfulness around eating times can help you snack on nourishing foods, when your body needs more fuel. With my clients, I approach eating on a functional level, but also with the understanding that nourishment encompasses the body, mind, and spirit. The more in tune you are with what you are eating and how it is making you feel, the easier it is to reach for wholesome foods, especially during snack time. To start doing this, simply be curious about your relationship with food. When you feel a pang of hunger coming on, ask your body what it needs, and take a few moments and a few deep breaths to really understand what would best serve you. If your instinct is to reach for sugary, processed foods, there might be something else going on, like a need to rest, release stress, or process some emotions. If you’re unsure, you can take a walk around the block (sans screens!) before coming back to reach for your snack; this will help you gain perspective on what you really need.
Snack on vegetables
Raw vegetables are truly the best snack. Not only do they supply your body with phytonutrients and antioxidants that support health on so many levels, but they are also satisfying. Vegetables are high in fiber and offer a delightful crunch. Eating foods that are rich in fiber slows your digestive system, which helps you feel full for longer. Raw carrots, colorful bell peppers, and sugar snap peas make delicious, filling midday snacks.
Avoid processed foods
If there is one takeaway from this article, it would be to stick to fresh, wholesome foods as much as possible. If you eat mostly fresh vegetables, fruits, high-quality proteins, and whole grains for meals and snack time, you are on a path to optimal health. In terms of finding filling snacks, research has shown that processed foods are less satisfying than whole foods, so it is best to limit them when you get the midday munchies.
Find a protein-filled snack
Protein is known to be the most satiating macronutrient, so make sure your snack contains a fair amount. Some of my favorite protein-filled snacks include chia seed pudding and nuts and seeds. Not only does research demonstrate that chia seeds have the ability to convert glucose into a slow-release carbohydrate and increase satiety, but they are also packed with fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts and seeds are also full of healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that when compared to a similar amount of calories of crackers, almonds help a person stay full longer. Stick to about a handful of nuts or seeds per day, as they are fairly high in calories and fat.
Drinking a lot of water is one of the most important ways to support your health. Every system in your body operates better when hydrated. Drinking water during snack time can also help you feel satisfied. One study found that subjects who drank water before a meal consumed significantly less than those who did not. You could also reach for hydrating foods, as research shows that consuming foods that are high in water content can also keep you feeling full. Watermelon is a delicious choice for both hydration and for feeling satisfied.
No matter what foods you reach for, try not to overcomplicate snack time. Tune into your body to understand what it needs, and fill up on wholesome, fresh foods. These tips will help you unlock long-lasting health and self-nourishment.
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Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN, combines her expertise as a celebrity chef and certified nutritionist to serve her A-list clientele. Her passion for integrative health and holistic nutrition led her to create Culinary Alchemy®, a method of functional and spiritual nutrition that integrates how food affects our bodies on a physiological and energetic level. Her work approach to nutrition, wellness, and longevity from a holistic approach optimizes and heals the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of her clients. Follow her Instagram, @chefserenapoon.
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