Do you leave work or school so hungry that you decide to stop at the nearest fast food place to pick something up and later wish you didn’t? Do you find yourself hungry while grocery shopping and then go home with a few extra treats that, of course, can’t go to waste?
Planned and well balanced snacks are essential to a healthy diet. Why? Because they help to regulate your appetite, prevent ravenous appetites and put sweet cravings where they belong, which is out of sight, and out of mind. Regular eating throughout the day helps you to feel full and satisfied while giving your body a steady stream of energy. When your body is receiving adequate amounts of food at regular intervals, metabolism is boosted to match the amount of calories coming in.
If your goal is weight loss, this is a very important principle to understand. Because, if you are not eating enough, you metabolism will slow down to match the amount of calories coming in. At first, you may see some weight loss. But, your weight loss will halt and you will likely be left wondering “why in the world am I not losing any more weight even though I’m barely eating anything?”
People will often tell me that they’re not that hungry in the morning so they don’t eat much of a breakfast or proudly report that they consume quite a small lunch, but by the time night time rolls around, most people more than make up for it with a ravenous dinner, snacking at night, or complaints of sweet cravings.
It makes sense that if you don’t eat enough during the day or you don’t eat balanced meals/snacks throughout the day, that your body will try and make up for what it’s missing by cranking your appetite up a notch or two. Whenever you find yourself “longing for that something else”, ask yourself what you ate in the hours prior that day and, even, look to the day before.
By planning to have balanced snacks throughout the day in addition to balanced meals, you can help promote a healthy appetite and set yourself up for success. The more successful you are, the more motivated you become to reach your goals.
There are 3 key points to remember when planning snacks.
- Plan your snacks so that you are eating every 3-4 hours.
- Ensure you have a balanced snack: a protein and a fiber rich food
- Use whole foods: make sure you know exactly what you are eating. Do you understand and know what every single ingredient is that’s listed on the ingredient list? If not, then you shouldn’t be consuming it.
Proteins that are easy to pack around and make good components for snacks are hard boiled eggs, nuts/seeds, nut/seed butters, plain yogurt, and cheese.
Fiber rich foods are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. When choosing fruits and vegetables, try to choose those that are in season and organic, if possible.
Here’s 10 balanced snacks that take less than 5 minutes to throw together and make a great addition to any brown bag lunch:
- Peanut Butter Dates – Take 2 Medjool dates. Split them in half and stuff with 1 TBP (1/2 TBP in each) all natural peanut butter.
- Apple Hemp Slices – Core and slice an apple into sticks. Spread with 1 TBP all natural almond butter and sprinkle with hemp hearts.
- Avocado Crunch – Take 2 Ryvita crispbreads and spread with 1/2 avocado (1/4 avocado on each slice), sprinkle of pepita (pumpkin) seeds, squeeze lime juice on top and top with a pinch of sea salt
- Maple Yogurt Pears – Mix 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 1-2 tsp of maple syrup, shake of cinnamon. Dunk with pears slices.
- V&D To-Go: Take a half pint (250mL) mason jar. Put a 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt on the bottom, squeeze some fresh lemon in, put in some fresh dill, 1/2 TBP EVOO and a pinch of sea salt. Then, put in your favourite crunchy vegetable like carrots, endive leaves, or broccoli. Put the lid on and pack in your bag.
- Ricotta and Medjool Date Bites: Spread 1 TBP ricotta cheese (1/2 TBP on each) on 2 Ryvita crisp breads. Top each one with half a date, sliced and apple slices.
- Cocoa Nib Trail Mix – Mix 1 TBP cocoa nibs, 1 TBP dried fruit of choice, and 3 TBP nuts of choice.
- Sprouted Pear Crostini – Toast 1 slice of Silver Hills bread, spread with 1 TBP ricotta cheese, thinly sliced pears, sprinkle of cinnamon, and drizzle of local honey.
- Sushi Wrap Up – Layer mandarin oranges, avocado, and pepita seeds on a nori wrap. Roll up and enjoy.
- Chiwi Sandwich – Take 2 kiwis and slice each into 4 rounds. Take each of the 4 rounds and top each with 1/2 TBP ricotta, sprinkle of chia seeds. Top with remaining kiwi rounds to make sandwiches.