Question: “Do you snack and if so, what are your favorite snacks?” This is a common question that I keep coming across. I decided to write up a little blog post about it because it seems to be a question a lot of you have.
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So – do I snack? Well, yes and no. And here’s why it’s not a definitive answer either way. I don’t purposefully snack. I don’t plan out my daily meals with a snack in mind or pack snacks to take with me to work. I eat a pretty hearty breakfast and I take along a bullet proof coffee with me to work so I am feeling satisfied for quite a while with my fuel and energy level until about “lunch time” – and I put that in quotes because somehow we are told when we are hungry because of a time and we should eat because the clock reaches a certain hour. Am I always hungry and noon? No. Not always. My scheduled lunch time at work is 12:30…..and it’s pretty much the only time I can eat if I want to eat something before dinner. I work as a para-educator and have my lunch while the students have lunch. If I don’t eat, I simply have to wait until school is out as I can’t just break out a lunch at 2:00 while teaching students. I mention this for a reason – since I’m not always hungry at my designated lunch time, I will eat just a little of what I packed for lunch (listening to my body vs. just eating because the clock says to) and that is when I find myself wanting to grab a snack at 3:30 when I get home from work. And that’s fine because I just nibble on a little something (I’ll get into what my go-to snacks are in a bit) before I head to CrossFit, workout and then come home and get dinner going.
Over the years of countless diets and “plans”, restricting or counting, eating too much and/or not enough led me following the schedule of eating & not because I was hungry. I have since learned to eat intuitively and I’m so thankful I finally found my nitch with food for fuel and my source for energy. We all know what food does for our bodies but we treat it differently on so many levels. Some of us might think of it as the devil — so many calories, makes me fat, feel sluggish, tummy issues etc and so on but really, it is our friend! It really is something to be enjoyed and it’s truly our main source for a thriving lifestyle. When I stopped looking at food as the enemy and started embracing the fact that my choices will either break me or help me become the best me I can be, I learned to appreciate and respect it! So instead of trying to fit food into the mold of what our society tells us we should be doing with it (lunch at noon for example), I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Sounds easy, right??? Not always. And trust me, this all ties in to the topic of snacking.
eat when you’re hungry – stop when you’re full
Eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m full is something I did many years ago and failed. I ate when I was hungry but since I didn’t know when I was full, I stopped myself from eating waaaaayyy before I registered that I was full. Of course it takes hours to digest our food so how do we really know when we actually are full? Well, not gonna lie ….it does take some time to really grasp the ‘listening to your body’ concept. Here’s how I learned:
*Mindless eating. I stopped eating mindlessly and by that I mean that I paid attention to how I was eating — was I chewing all of my food (and I know that sounds weird but I used to be the queen of fast eating and probably not chewing my food enough and swallowing way before I should have), so I started putting my fork down between bites and literally paying attention to how long I chewed my food. That brings me to another tip:
*Putting the fork down. How often do we poke at another bite of food before we’ve even gotten the bite in our mouth swallowed? That just leads to spooning in more food into your mouth before you’re actually ready for it.
*Drinking water. Sometimes we think we are hungry but we are thirsty. Drink a glass of water and see how you feel. If you’re truly hungry, you will still be hungry but sometimes it’s all about the thirst.
*Hungry? or craving something? So, if I am really just ‘hungry’, my body will accept anything that will curb that hunger, right? Standing in front of the fridge and saying “I’m hungry” but leftover roasted veggies doesn’t sound good BUT the dark chocolate piece with almond butter sounds like perfection! Well, I have been there and definitely given into that craving BUT that doesn’t exactly mean that I was hungry and now I know that. I’m ok with giving into those moments but don’t mistake a craving or even a simple fact that you just want a treat, with real hunger.
*Limit the amount of food you put on your plate. I use the word ‘limit’ loosely. I certainly am not a fan of weighing or measuring your food but I do think that as Americans, we sometimes load our plate with way more than we need to eat. At this point, I can eye ball what I think my hunger is telling me to plate up but at first, I would start small — don’t worry, you can go back for more! But simply starting with smaller portions, eating slowly, sitting there for a minute and tuning into your body/hunger will tell you whether or not to get a little more or simply stop. Sooner or later, you will find that your fullness will register and even when there is food still on your plate, you’ll know it’s time to stop eating. And again, there’s no rules — you can always plate up a little more in an hour if you’re truly hungry at that time!
long and short of it
Here’s why all of that ties into snacking. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Eating a well rounded diet with meals loaded of healthy fats, proteins & greens/veggies satiates me to the point of not really needing to snack in between. I am not against snack by any means, I simply don’t find the need to do so with how I fuel my body with my meals.
There are times that I do snack and it might be because I know I’m having a late dinner out and I don’t want to go to that dinner super hungry so I might eat a little something beforehand. If my lunch ends up being too light, I may grab a nibble before working out. And sometimes there’s the evening of chilling on the couch with a movie and I decide to indulge on a sweet treat. There’s no right or wrong here. We are all different and make choices accordingly. I used to think I had to eat every 2-3 hours in order to keep from getting hangry …or to keep my metabolism revving but I listened to my own body and eating something at 10am was senseless when I wasn’t the least bit hungry. However, some might need that punch of fuel at that hour & that’s ‘ok’!
my snacks of choice
I like that there are so many bars out there now that are paleo friendly. I like Lara Bars, RxBars, Primal Kitchen Food, DNX Bars and Bricks – to name a few. I also like beef jerky as a snack and I usually stick with Buy Ranch Direct in that area. Paleo Valley makes great beef sticks that are fermented! And they taste awesome. I find these snack are great for on-the-go ideas. At home I like hard boiled eggs, Jilz Crackerz on their own… or with Primal Kitchen Foods Chipotle Mayo or even topped with Tinstar Foods Ghee. Almond butter is always a fav! Nuts and seeds are great too. I’m not a huge fruit lover but I do like my berries so when they are in season, I might nibble on some blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Sometimes a smoothie or green juice helps too and I find that I whip those up more in the summer as a treat or refreshing drink on a hot day.
i’m in the now
I hope that sums it up and makes sense. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out. I also want to end this by saying that we all have our own thoughts & feelings on the subject. This is what works for me ‘now’. Who knows how I’ll feel about it in a year or two? We evolve and I can’t say that is how I’ll eat for the rest of my life — I just know that it’s working for me now. And since I really just try and tune in to what my body needs, I can’t say that this is a set in stone way of life for me, or anyone else for that matter. I’m living in the now and listening to my body. Really, our bodies speak loudly …..we just gotta learn to listen.