Snacking is one of the areas that often requires the biggest change when I work with children and people. We do not always need a snack, but whether to snack or not should be based on how we feel at the time. The CHOICE OF SNACK is more important than whether you choose to snack or not.
In the weight loss world, this is something that many people try to with hold from themselves. There isn’t a need to snack unless you are hungry, and sometimes you do need more energy to make it to the next meal time. Choosing the right snack is key!
Mistake 1: Choosing a packaged snack
The biggest mistake people make when choosing a snack is choosing processed and packaged foods. This is because they are easy! People today really have no idea what to choose for a snack if it doesn’t come in a bag or package. This is where the most chemicals, the most additives, the most empty calories come from for adults AND CHILDREN! This is the HARDEST area for working parents to make a choice for their kids. It is very easy to walk past a MASSIVE pack of candy, or those little cookies shaped like bears or fish (you know what I mean!) and toss them in the cart, then toss them in a bag for school or daycare.
This type of eating/snacking ends up being about 75% of the day of calories for many children. But unfortunately there is ZERO nutrition in these foods. There is NO POINT in eating them for adults or children. Potato chips, snack packs, etc. Nothing in them that is beneficial for your body. Many children have reactions digestively to these types of foods and chemicals, as well as increases in poor focus, poor behavior, and being inattentive at home.
Remedy: Choose whole foods instead
It is just as easy, to grab a bag of apples, a bag of carrots, pre-cut other veggies and toss those in the cart, as those packages. If you want to spend the extra 10 minutes to buy the whole veggie and chop – YOU SHOULD – but you can buy all these vegetables, and fruits, in a to-go format today in your grocery store.
Remember a few things when choosing a snack that is a whole food. You want to have something with a bit of weight and additional value besides just sugars from fruit. Although a piece of fruit might be all you need, for children they often need MORE than that. If you pack fruit, that is OK, but remember they will need ANOTHER snack fairly quickly. The same may apply to yourself.
Nuts, cut veggies with a small amount of dip, a yogurt (real yogurt not pouches filled with sugar), or even a healthy made baked good would help! My son will take a container of nuts with some unsweetened cranberries, along with a piece of fruit, or an unsweetened all natural applesauce for his snacks for school.
Mistake 2: Relying too heavily on baked goods
This tends to be something that adults do the most. In the world of nutritional therapy – whole food should be the way to go. But I think that baked goods can have a place if the ingredients are healthy and as unprocessed as possible. However, these are more CONDIMENTS to a meal versus THE snack itself. Similar things will happen when choosing JUST a baked good for a snack.
You will be hungry more quickly, and then will require more snacks again.
Remedy: Choose things that have more healthy fat, and protein content
Something like a raw nut energy ball with some coconut oil, or nuts with coconut oil, maybe in addition to a baked good would be great.
Flours (even nut) in baked goods are light, and although nut flours would leave you satiety for longer, it still isn’t the same as having the whole food itself. Because things like baked goods don’t stay long in our system it creates a pattern too of repetitious eating because we will go back for another, and then two hours later – another! Stick with some whole foods, and use your baked goods as condiments.
Mistake 3: Not considering snacks as part of your whole nutrition for the day
People tend to not think much about their snacks – this is why they are choosing these packages and boxes, and non-whole food items. They are an afterthought. However, these could help you balance nutrients for your day. Instead of making them an afterthought let’s look at them as a way to fill the gaps of our meals.
Remedy: Look at the nutrients you have trouble fitting into your meals, and make them your snacks
What gaps do you have in your macro nutrients? In other words, do you tend to lean toward carb heavy meals? Do you use very little heathy fat throughout the meals and day? Are you low on protein daily? Make your snacks the missing nutrients to fill those gaps!
Move to a protein snack – like nuts, seeds with a healthy fat to fill gaps of not using many oils or proteins daily. Perhaps you need some digestive support, adding some yogurt with natural probiotics could make a difference. Low on greens daily? Make vegetables your snack a couple times a day to boost that intake!
As always – the best thing you can do for yourself is use whole food nutrients to fill those gaps and for snacks. Removing processed packages, boxes and additives from your routine will help. I have even had someone that just started with removing these types of snacks only. They had a HUGE alleviation of their symptoms. With more work toward doing this with every meal, you balance your body back out. You will also learn this routine of real/whole foods daily.