Oh snack foods…
In general, they are complete crap and offer little to nothing in the way of nutrients, just calories and sugar.
When most people think of snacks they think of chips, Little Debbie’s, crackers, candy bars or even a Coke or Diet Coke. Or, if you’re trying to eat healthier, there are plenty of “healthified” snacks on the market today you could grab: 100 calorie packs, crackers “made with whole grains,” and fruit snacks (aka gummy candy) “made with real fruit” to name a few. And yes, those are still crappy snacks. Ideally, it’s time for a snack when your body says “Hey body, we’re hungry. It’s only 3pm and we know you’re not getting home until 6. Can we have something to hold us over?” In this case, you don’t want to just fuel your body with empty calories and sugar, only to crash an hour or two later and raid the cabinets when you get home, shoving whatever you see straight to your face.
A better solution?
It is perfectly OK to give your body the carbohydrates it is craving, but not in the form of simple sugars. Think about incorporating complex carbohydrates like whole grains and fruits and vegetables instead. Complex carbohydrates are full of fiber and nutrients that fuel our bodies and can get you through the rest of the day without a sugar crash. Form your snack around these healthy carbohydrates and add in some protein and healthy fat for a nutritionally complete snack. Some foods contain all three of these components in one, while others may need to be paired up.
- Greek yogurt (plain– add your own fruit, nuts, oats and honey)
- Homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit
- Apple slices with cheddar cheese
- Carrots, snap peas and sliced bell peppers with hummus dip
- Bars (Check out The Best Snack Bars Under 150 Calories and The Best and Worst Protein Bars)
- Hard-boiled egg on a slice of Ezekiel toast
- Almond butter and pear slices
- Whole grain cereal (high in protein like Kashi GoLean Crisp) and milk (regular or soy— almond has little to NO protein)
- Cottage cheese and fruit
Another great solution is to try breaking your lunch up into two meals and spread it out throughout your day. Have half your lunch at 11:00 and the other half at 3:00. This will keep your energy and blood sugar levels stable and keep your metabolism running efficiently all day.
Always keep an emergency stash of nuts or bars in your desk to keep you from needing to run to the vending machine. I love Trader Joe’s Thai Lime and Chili Almonds or cashews. If you do find yourself heading to a machine, try to choose a trail mix with nuts and seeds or a whole-grain option if available.
What are your favorite go-to snack options?