What does smart snacking mean? Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, or a pudding cup as a snack, a smart snacker will eat something like a handful of raw nuts, apple slices and almond butter, or carrot sticks. When you are hungry, though, making smart snacking choices is not necessarily the first thing on your mind. Snacking usually ends up being more like erratic eating, savagely consuming something salty and crunchy. If you are cleansing, this cannot happen. If you are not cleansing, it still should not happen because it can lead to weight gain, poor digestion, and a slow metabolism. To help you snack smartly, we have outlined some great tips below.
1. Snack when you are hungry.
Spacing your meals so far apart can cause intense cravings. It takes about 4 hours for the stomach to empty, so eat something small between your meals to hold you over. For example, if you drank a green smoothie at 8:00a.m. for breakfast and aren’t going to eat lunch until 1:00p.m., you are going to need some food during that time period. Pack a small bag of raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, or pecans to keep you feeling full.
2. Snack when your blood sugar is low.
How do you know when you have low blood sugar? Meals that are high in starch or sugar can cause a dip in blood sugar not too long after you finish eating. This can make you feel hungry, even though you just ate. Our advice is to avoid starchy meals, but we know that it does happen. To curb your hunger after a starchy meal, take a couple bites of an apple or carrot to raise your blood sugar back to normal.
3. Snack when you’re running out of fuel.
Despite what you may believe, this is not the same as having low blood sugar. It is possible to feel fatigued if your meal didn’t provide enough calories or nutrients. Calories are a measure of energy and most fruits and vegetables are low in calories, which is why cleansing can make you feel as though you are tired. On the other hand, you don’t want to overload your body with unhealthy calories either. Rather than going for a coffee, soda, or energy drink, try eating some raw almonds, drinking lemon water, or eating this awesome raw bar.
4. Avoid daylong snacking.
Grazing here and there is not the same as snacking throughout the day. To graze is to split your three primary meals into smaller servings. For example, you would split breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in half to eat six smaller meals throughout the day. Snacking throughout the day means that you won’t be hungry for your meals. Eating smaller meals throughout the day gives is a great way to balance energy levels and to avoid dips or spikes in blood sugar.
5. Don’t snack when you’re bored, sad, mad, or scared.
If you have ever broken up with someone, been sad or depressed, or stressed out, snacking on unhealthy foods seems to be the most natural thing. This is because eating has a calming effect and can numb you from emotions that you’re experiencing. It is not a solution. It is better to acknowledge how you feel and use things like exercise, meditation, or breathing exercises to handle those situations.
6. Snack mindfully.
By snacking mindfully, you can help break bad habits. If you notice that you get up at 4pm from your desk to grab a bag of chips every day, that time has become a trigger to make an unhealthy decision. Start changing what you do. You could drink a glass of water or cup of tea, or snack on some carrot sticks. You could also bring a small green smoothie to work and have it later to power your cells. You can also snack mindfully by cutting up a fruit or vegetable instead of eating it whole. This helps you slow down and not engulf the whole thing in seconds. Try adding raw almond butter for more sustenance.
7. Keep it real, even when you’re on the go.
Eating whole fruits and nuts is better than purchasing “healthy” bars that say they have fruits and nuts in them. Most of these bars are glorified candy bars. A great indication of how to tell if something is healthy is by reading the first 5 ingredients. There are organic raw snacks that are made from preservative-free, sugar-free dried fruit, but many snacks and bars will list sugar within the top five ingredients. If that is the case, you don’t need it.
8. Always plan ahead. Don’t expect to find nutritious food and snacks on the road.
This is a general rule of thumb when trying to be healthy. It is always best to bring healthy snacks with you. Pack little containers of fruit, vegetables, nuts, or seeds so that you can snack when you want to without resorting to anything that looks appealing. You are essentially babying yourself, but it is to help you become the healthiest version of yourself possible!