the gorgeous ayla nominated me for the versatile blogger award!
i won't mention how many times i typed and re-typed the spelling of "versatile..."
i'm supposed to list 7 facts about myself, but seeing as how i've posted random facts about myself before and wouldn't make you sit through it again, i'm totally copying ayla's idea of listing 7 things she ate almost every day.
thanks for the nomination, beautiful!
seven foods i eat daily, unless a unforeseen natural disaster prevents me from doing so:
1. cocoa oatmeal, with cottage cheese, vanilla, stevia, and peanut/almond butter for breakfast. in manly portions. enjoyed at 5:30 am.
2. an apple. doesn't matter what kind, as long as it's organic.
3. a whole wheat wrap, or two. i'm not a fan of bread, but i can HOUSE wraps.
4. salad greens. i love fresh spinach and the mixed greens from trader joe's. i add them to my aforementioned wraps.
5. a banana. i don't really like bananas, but i'm cheap, and so are they.
6. Fage greek yogurt. this is why i'm poor, and have to eat bananas.
7. an egg. as a meat-free girl, these are my protein/fat lifesaver. egg whites are gross. i like real food.
ta-da! now you know everything about me.
on to the important stuff, like SNACKING!
two of my favorite bloggers, the lovely Hedda and the hilarious Jessica, as well as one of my best friend's moms (hi, Connie!), requested a post on healthy snacks.
well, never one to turn down an opportunity to talk food, your wish is my command!
Rebekah's Guide on How to Snack.
DISCLAIMER: i would like to take this time to explain my approach to snacking.
first of all, i am not you. your body is different than my body, so i eat differently than you do. don't think you have to follow my advice to the letter, or anyone else's, for that matter. you do what's good for you, buddy.
secondly, i know some people just want a list of what food to buy, the store that sells it, the price, and what time to eat it. i don't think that's a very smart way to eat, frankly. i think more important than what you eat is why and how you eat it. so while i might throw out a suggestion here and there, i don't really care EXACTLY what you eat. that's not the most important factor, here.
my only "rule" of snacking: know thyself.
diets (i hate this naughty word!) don't work because what works for britney spears doesn't necessarily work for me... thank god.
the same idea is true for snacking, whether you are trying to lose weight, train for a marathon, or gain weight: for it to be a helpful, healthy habit, it has to work for your body...
1. when are you hungry?
everybody is different. i am RAVENOUS as soon as my eyes open in the mornings, and sometimes, my stomach even wakes me up! my mom, on the other hand, doesn't get hungry for a few hours... which blows my mind, but you get my point.
observe your hunger patterns over the course of the day: are you starving at 10am? 1pm? not really famished until 6pm? snacks are designed to keep your energy up at the time when YOU need it, not when health magazine tells you to eat. if you are really hungry in the morning, plan to eat more snacks in the morning, etc.
a word of caution here: i don't think anyone should go many hours without food, if you can help it. when you go too long, it causes your blood sugar to drop, your body to break down your hard-earned muscles, you get headaches, and it sets you up to stuff yourself later in the day. so while you should adjust your snacks to when you are hungry, make sure you aren't eating all your food at one time, then not eating the rest of the day, ok?
2. what does your schedule look like?
if you are in school or a hands-on job, you obviously have restrictions on when and what you can eat. if you are at home or an office with accessible food, however, this is to your advantage!
either way, think about your plans for the day: are you in a meeting for 4 hours? plan to bring a QUIET, NEAT snack, like a shake or string cheese. do you work out on your lunch break? you'll probably need to grab a larabar to nibble beforehand so you have energy. will you be working late? don't forget to bring yourself a baggie of almonds, pretzels, and raisins to hold you until you can make dinner.
3. what do you love to eat?
this is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. your day should be FILLED with food that makes you happy. you only live once, so why deprive yourself? that's silly. food is delicious for a reason - to be enjoyed!
snacks are the perfect place to enjoy things you love. i know if i don't eat something for weeks, when i do eat it, my serving will be so big, i could swim in it. but if i eat a little every day? totally satisfied.
so if chocolate is your thang? add a few chocolate chips in your trail mix. sprinkle a few on your oatmeal. savor a few with your tea at night. is bread your favorite? buy the best quality you can afford, and make yourself a KILLER sandwich to take to work. use it as fuel with almond butter before a workout. use it as french toast for a "dessert" one night. cheese your fling? instead of scrambling two eggs, use one and melt in a piece of your favorite cheese. eat a slice along side an apple for a balanced snack before a long car ride. i love a piece at night when i eat something sweet because it adds healthy protein and fat i need to balance out the sugar.
don't EVER let your preferences, cravings, or hunger patterns make you feel guilty. i don't care what you've read in a magazine - you aren't "weird." your body and it's needs are never a meant for shame.
4. what fills you up?
this is another biggie. it breaks my heart when people say they can't eat healthy because they're always hungry. "i try," they complain, "but carrot sticks don't fill me up!"
um... do they fill ANYONE up? i think not, by themselves anyways. snacking is supposed to give you energy and satisfy your hunger. contrary to what you see on TV, it is not an excuse to eat chips just because they are labeled "snack-sized." i would have to eat a "family-sized" bag to be full! gross.
what would fill you up at a meal? the same kinds of foods probably would fill you up for a snack. read your labels/do your research. does it have a good amount of protein? fiber? a little bit of fat? is it a real, natural food? chances are, it's a good, filling choice.
a word of caution: fruit, by itself, isn't the best choice unless you're headed to the gym. it's too high in sugar to be eaten by itself, causing your blood sugar to spike, so you'll probably be snackier than before you ate it. pair it with some nuts!
also key: portions. i'm not going to tell you what is the right amount for a snack, because frankly, i'm not your stomach, so how would i know? observe what it takes to leave you satisfied. eat enough, or you'll just have to eat again anyways. i know it's a fine line, but honor your body. if you're really hungry, eat. if you aren't very hungry, either eat something small, or just wait an hour.
5. what's your lifestyle?
are you a runner? a yoga teacher? a mom of a toddler? a couch potato? a gym rat? a growing teenage boy? all these things are part of your lifestyle, and they definitely influence how you should snack.
this goes hand-in-hand with #2 (your schedule). think about what purpose you fuel your body for: a long work day? a long bike ride? a long car ride? factor this into your snacks.
when do you need the most energy? for instance, i usually work out about 2 or 3 hours after i wake up, so i find that eating a big breakfast right when i get up works for me. it's digested by time i run, i feel strong, and it's satisfying enough to fuel me through without crashing halfway. if i lift weights in the afternoon, though, i don't like to eat too much before because it makes me feel sluggish. i eat a good, balanced lunch, then later, grab an apple and slice of cheese as i get dressed and packed for the gym.
you might have an hour commute after work before Body Pump, so eating a good-sized snack an hour before you clock out would probably suffice. make snacks a part of achieving your goals, in the office or in the gym.
hmm, apparently google images thinks that diet pepsi is a "healthy snack."
* not really snacks, but important factors to consider:
- don't pick junk food just because you aren't starving. processed foods mess with our hunger signals, and can make us eat more (or less!) than our bodies really need. and the old saying "garbage in, garbage out" is very true about snacks - if you eat crap, you will feel like crap.
- like it or not, breakfast really does set the tone of the day. it should always be something solid - plenty of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. i know no one wants to hear it, but this is not the place for sugar. a little won't kill ya, as long as the main components are the proteins and fiber. do yourself a favor and save your sugar (if you must!) for later in the day, after you've already gotten a solid meal under your belt.
the incredibly gorgeous brittany from Eating Bird Food and i were talking about this last week... skimping on breakfast, even if you don't feel hungry, guarantees you WILL be snacky later that day. i promise. you don't lack "willpower," you lack breakfast! you don't have to stuff yourself, but do eat something solid. no tiny, wimpy breakfasts, ok?
i hate to throw out numbers, but about a third of the calories i eat in a day are at breakfast. don't be scared to eat your biggest meal here, especially if you struggle with nighttime snacking/hunger pains. i eat two servings of oats, a serving of cottage cheese, and two tablespoons of peanut butter... a whole lot of food! if i don't get my breakfast, i am not nice!
- don't forget good old water! it's so easy to do, but will screw you up! most people remember to drink at meals, but actually, snacks are the way to go to stay hydrated. you need water evenly spaced throughoutsnacky." sometimes, "snacky" is really dehydration, especially if you are active. the extra water also helps with digestion, and with all the healthy, fiber-filled foods you'll be eating, you... ahem, need it!
- make good choices when you can, but relax a little. packaged food isn't usually a wonderfully nutritious choice, but there are exceptions. bagged nuts, protein bars, trail mix, whole wheat crackers, pretzels, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds are just a few examples of very helpful snack options when you're in a pinch. places like trader joe's, whole foods, and your local health store usually have some good snacks for busy people. and plenty of packaged foods are actually healthier now - just check the label for ingredients you want to put in your body, and can pronounce!
if you can't get to your "ideal" foods, like at an airport or friend's house, it's no big thing. healthy eating is about making the best choice available for your body, not stressing and obsessing about processing, trans fats, and chemicals. if you don't eat these things regularly, you can rest assured that a bit here and there is not harmful.
on the other hand, if you'd rather go hungry than eat something "unhealthy," or feel guilty about getting fast food on a road trip, or you had no option other than potato chips and salsa at a party, that is not healthy. that's called disordered eating, and it can lead you to a dark relationship with your food. so relax - at the end of the day, it's just FOOD, not a bomb, ok?
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
- Averie of Loves Veggies and Yoga has an huge recipe archive of quick, portable (vegan!) snacks
- Evan of Food Makes Fun Fuel has reviewed about every protein/energy/snack bar created, and has honest opinions coming from someone who cares about wholesome foods.
- Eating Well's archive of snack recipes
- soup makes a great snack! my favorite place for heavenly soup recipes.
props to the experts! there are many more wonderful resources, but these just popped into my head.
do you eat snacks, or are you a "3 square meals" person?
what's your go-to snack?
how do you feel about your personal eating habits?