Sensible Snacking

Snacking is no longer an occasional treat. The majority of the population snacks at least once a day and consumes anywhere from 250-600 calories per day from snacks.  Snacks have an important role to play in our daily nutrition. They can expand nutrient intake, reduce hunger at mealtimes, improve hydration, and boost performance/endurance when eaten sensibly.

What is important to understand is when and why we are snacking. Snacking can occur for several reasons. Some common times people snack are:

After work and before dinner
Instead of eating lunch during the work day
During cooking
After dinner and before bed
While watching TV
To feel good/provide a reward
When socializing/celebrations

Most often, these reasons don’t lead to sensible snacking. Snacking should be seen as a way to increase energy and nutrient intake, but this will only occur when the right snacks are consumed at the right time.

We need to focus on why we are snacking. If we’re snacking for nutrition, then we should focus on adding nutrient-rich, whole food snacks. If we are snacking because of hunger, then we should focus on snacks that satiate by providing protein, fiber, and water. If we are snacking for convenience, then we need to focus on healthy grab and go options. If we are snacking because of low energy, then we need to stay away from high-sugar snacks, and focus on carbohydrate-rich foods that will boost energy. If we are snacking as a reward, then we must focus on mindfulness and portion size.

A simple formula for what makes up a sensible snack is a snack that contains foods from at least two food groups. The most satisfying snacks contain water, protein, and fiber.

Some of my favorite snacks include:

2 dates with 1 ½ tsp of peanut butter
Hard boiled egg and ½ sweet potato
Vegan Chocolate Shakeology
Cut veggies and hummus
Babybel cheese and an apple

Make sure to focus on why you are snacking. Mindless snacking can be detrimental to our fitness goals, while mindful snacking can bring on a wealth of nutrients into our bodies.

Have a great week,
Meryl

Featured Recipe

black bean brownie

Black Bean Avocado Brownies

Enjoy these fiber rich treats as a snack when you’re craving something sweet and decadent.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 of a large extra ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (important to use a VERY good quality powder!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips of choice, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 8X8 baking pan. Place all ingredients besides chocolate chips into a food processor and pulse until ingredients form a thick batter. If batter is way too thick, add a teaspoon at a time of almond milk. Stir in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and spread into pan. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 20-24 minutes.

Enjoy!

Recipe from the Ambitious Kitchen Blog.

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