Happy Monday! I had a tough time leaving my warm bed this morning, but luckily I have already gotten some work, my workout, and now I’m getting my daily tip out to you all before lunch time even hits. My belly is happy with a little helping of my sweet potato snack to keep me energized. Which leads into the topic of the day–keeping healthy snacks always at hand.
There are a lot of different opinions about snacking. Some people like to stick to three square meals a day to fuel them, while others prefer to throw in a few snacks in between meals. If you walk into most generic grocery stores, they will have you believe your snacks need to come in a brightly colored package with lots of buzz words all over like “100 calories”, “sugar-free”, “low in fat”, or my favorite (insert sarcasm here) “natural”. Some nutrition experts will tell you snacking leads to overeating, and others may say proper snacking can help with weight loss. As with most things, you can find what works with your lifestyle and your current goals.
My opinion is that snacking can have a strong place in a healthy diet as long as you are making smart choices. During the holiday season in particular I think snacks can be very beneficial. Many times people work later or eat later at night due to the timing of social functions, so having a late afternoon handful of nuts and a piece of fruit may help keep you fueled until you can eat a full meal. Having a snack before events can also keep you from overeating at the buffet. My family tends to do our holiday meals in the early evening, so I may not do a full lunch on those days so instead I’ll try to have some good snacks to hold me over until dinner. If you tend not to have big meals, snacking can help get enough of your servings of fruits and vegetables in, as well as make sure you are eating enough calories overall.
Keeping some food at work or with you in your purse/bag is a great way to make sure you are prepared for when your energy levels dip and you need a little pick-me-up. I’m sure I’m repeating myself here, but it will also help you resist at least some of the temptations that seem to constantly come in the office during the holidays, as well. Snacks do not have to be fancy, it just needs to be something you will eat. Many common fruits come in portable packages–their own skin. Raw nuts and seeds can be kept at your desk without needing refrigeration. We trainers are always fans of vegetables and hummus (salsa or nut butter also make great dippers). Homemade is best when possible, but I can tell you I always have a few Larabars stashed around when I have run out of the rest of my ready-made snacks.
Be sure to watch your portion sizes and try to fit your snacks into an overall well-balanced meal plan. Nuts are great, but they can add up in calories if you are eating multiple servings in one sitting. If you are doing a few packaged items, watch for added sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodium and preservatives. Be smart in your choices and you will be much more likely to stay on track and hit your goals!