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Have a healthy snack attack

Posted Mar 05 2010 12:00am
Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we got hungry, something healthy and delicious would magically appear?

Needless to say, that’s not the universe we live in. In the real world, you have two basic choices when you get hungry: either ignore your hunger (never a good idea), or eat whatever the world provides (usually processed junk).

But wait: there’s a third option. You can carry healthy snacks with you whenever you leave the house. Yes, this takes a small bit of extra planning, but no more so than remembering to put gas in your car, pay your electric bill, or set your alarm clock -- responsibilities you’d never think of ignoring.

Your health is your responsibility, too. If you forget to gas up your car, you might run out of gas, and that would suck. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll also suffer consequences. They might be immediate consequences, like feeling rotten in the middle of a busy day, or they might be long-term health consequences. Or both.

So here’s what to do. First, come up with a list of good-for-you snacks that you also enjoy (no point in eating something you don’t like, right?). Then make sure you always have a few of these things on hand, so you can reach for them instead of chips, cookies, and candy bars when you feel the munchies coming on.

I’ve listed some of my own favorites below, but feel free to dream up your own.

Note that everything on my list contains some protein and/or healthy fat . Why is that? Because fat and protein slow down your digestive process, so you feel satisfied for a few hours after you eat these foods. In contrast, a snack of plain carbohydrates -- even a supposedly healthy one like crackers, pretzels, or fruit -- causes a quick spike in your blood sugar, followed by a crash. That means it won’t be long before you’re hungry, tired, and cranky again.

If you buy a small lunch bag, an ice pack, and a few inexpensive plastic containers, you’ll increase your options even further. You can even eat leftovers as a snack. Go ahead! Whatever you cooked for dinner last night, it's likely to be a healthier choice than a 100-calorie pack of chips, or anything from a convenience store or fast-food joint.

Here are some ideas to get you started
  • Cut-up raw veggies (like carrots, bell peppers, broccoli or cauliflower) with hummus or yogurt dip
  • Pistachio nuts, walnuts, pecans, or almonds
  • Crackers and (pick one): peanut, almond, or sunflower butter; hummus or bean dip; cheese; pesto; tuna, smoked salmon, sardines, or oysters
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Sliced apples with peanut butter
  • Sliced pears with cheese
  • Baked tortilla chips with guacamole
  • A smoothie made with bananas, frozen berries, and plain yogurt (not fat-free)
  • Dried figs or dates with goat cheese
  • A piece of cold quiche or frittata
  • Nuts and dried fruit (avoid commercial trail mix -- lots of added sugar)
  • Leftover porridge with chopped nuts and fresh fruit
  • A cup of hearty soup
  • A helping of bean salad, Greek salad, or another type containing protein
  • A slice of homemade pizza
What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Text © 2010 Eleanor Kohlsaat , LLC
Image © 2010 Denys Dolnikov
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