A few years ago when I was working an 8-5 in an office, I LIVED for snack time. That sounds pretty funny when I read that back now - like something my 3 year old daughter would say. But seriously, I would have my breakfast in the morning, and count down the time until I "got to" have my small bag of raw almonds at 10am. It didn't matter if I was hungry or not, it was like my treat for making it halfway through the morning. Looking back on that now, I see someone who was likely unfulfilled with their work, and just needed a distraction or some "excitement" to change up the mundane routine.
The Turning Point
Then one day while working, I listened to a podcast where Kelly LeVeque was interviewed. Kelly is an amazing holistic nutritionist, wellness expert, and celebrity health coach in LA. If you haven't heard her speak or read her books, I highly suggest checking her out. Although I loved everything she said that day, her focus on blood sugar and comment on snacking really stood out to me....
“We’re not toddlers.” She said matter of factly about NEEDING to have snacks several times a day. Ever since then, I haven't looked at snacking the same. Why? Because IT’S SO TRUE! If we are honest with ourselves, when we have snacks it is usually because we are bored and/or looking for a distraction from something we actually have to or need to do. It’s usually not because we are hungry. Think about if you are doing that (honestly) and how it may be affecting your health goals.
My New Theory on Snacking
1. We are meant to eat when we are hungry. Period. Not because there are stale donuts on the breakroom table and we are bored.
2. If you are hungry, I always encourage making a snack a mini-meal, and/or incorporating two of the major macronutrient groups (fat, carbs,protein) If you can include a veggie, even better! This idea that came from my experience with the Whole30, and Kelly’s thoughts about blood sugar balance throughout the day.
3. Consider adding healthy fats, additional protein or fiber to your meals so they keep you full throughout the day!
On the rare occasion, we find ourselves in a town we aren't often in, passing our absolute favorite bakery, popcorn, chocolate, whatever shop, and we just HAVE to stop in. Or maybe your friend wants to go for ice cream, your co-worker brought in amazing homemade brownies (can you tell I like sweets?) - you know, life stuff.
This is when I would make an exception to the “have to be hungry” to eat rule...because eating good food is a part of life that I really enjoy - and I think you should too!
Now, if this starts to happen every day, you will have to make some choices and take a look at your priorities :)
So specifically what I do here? I try my hardest to go for a small portion and to stick to it. (Ill be honest, it doesn’t always happen, but I try) Maybe I will pack something up and take it home, maybe I won’t. Either way - I eat it, enjoy it, and move on :)
In a nutshell - save “snack time” for when you are hungry or when you can’t pass up on amazing food (and keep your portions in check!)
Simple Tips to Keep you From Snacking your Life Away
1. Only buy what you want to eat
We know we have all walked over to the cupboard or fridge and looked inside (probably bored or looking for a distraction, or maybe you were actually hungry.) Just imagine if your favorite snack (that has no nutritional value) was always sitting there right in front when you looked? I always feel that is setting yourself up for failure - the opposite of what we want to do. If your fridge or cupboard is filled with fruits, veggies, nuts and quality proteins, you are more likely to eat them only if you are truly hungry and need fuel - the reason we want to be eating.
2. Portion out the food you want to eat before you take your first bite (this applies to snacks, appetizers, meals,etc.) If you have ever been to a restaurant with dips and chips, you know how easy it is to finish a basket of chips and have no idea how it happened. Take a portion of food and put it on your plate (or seperate out what you want to eat from a meal) and eat that. Make a conscious decision to go for a second portion - that way you know exactly how much you are eating!
3. Think about how something will make you FEEL before you eat it
We all know that we eat things that may taste good in the moment, but the second they hit our gut they no longer bring us any pleasure…. just a garbage feeling and the calories to go with it. Next time you are tempted by mediocre packaged, processed food - try thinking about how you will feel once the temporary satisfaction goes away. Is it worth it?
What are your thoughts on all of this or favorite tips when it comes to snacking? I would love to hear them!
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