Cheese and crackers. I remember the day when this was the definition of a "snack"
Now a day, it seems like people are snacking more than ever. Certainly effective to honor hunger, control blood sugar and to nourish the body but snacks can turn into look-a-like meals, often nutritionally inadequate and calorically dense.
Cookies, chips, bars and cereals now come in individual 100-calorie servings but these "healthy" looking processed, convient foods may provide calories but often leaving you wanting more. Now, fast food establishments are advertising "snack" items just in case you happen to feel hungry while driving (or during work).
In learning to develop a healthier relationship w/ food to fuel my lifestyle, I've really learned to appreciate, enjoy and savour my meals. I love meal time for the yummy-tasting foods that I provide to my body as well as for the enjoyment I find in preparing my meals. I enjoy spending more energy around meal time in order to feel more satisfied throughout the day.
There are days when I am more hungry than other days around late afternoon so I simply adjust my dinner intake (if needed) to account for a larger afternoon snack. I don't feel guilty or upset at my body for requesting more food at a different time but I make sure to honor my hunger. I also find it important that rather than feeling "bad", it's important to see if there was anything I could have done differently (or did differently) that made me feel a little "off" with my appetite or food choices for the day. I believe we always need to work on the diet as we age but it should never be with a "dieting" mentality or to include an off-limit, forbidden food list. As an athlete and lover of life, I believe in the power of mindful and intuitive eating.
In the past, I have found that not having a pre training snack has lead to extreme hunger in afternoon as well as going too long between meals, without having a snack, has lead me to overeat at dinner and through the evening. I always eat breakfast but I often have to tweak it depending on my current training routine for as my training changes, so does my diet.
In recognizing these things, I've addressed my eating/food choices in a positive way, which has allowed me to further my positiv relationship w/ food and has allowed me to train better as well. Never feel as if you are "bad" when it comes to eatng. Reflect and don't be afraid to try new things to make for a better tomorrow.
I'm not into counting calories. Most of the foods in my diet are without food labels and long ingredient lists so rather, I try to identify notable nutrients instead. Although it may work for many to count, measure and weigh, I feel there is some freedom in freeing yourself from being a mathematician when it comes to food and instead, addressing the nutritional quality of the diet and how food makes you feel around meal time and how it enhances your life.
The reason why I find it beneficial to share the following 100-calorie Whole Food Snacks (found in my September 2012 issue of Environmental Nutrition newsletter) is to encourage you to see snacking as an opportunity to fill in any nutritional gaps in the diet.
Additionally, with wholefoods as snack options, it is much easier to feel satisfied with nutrient-dense calories. Address the composition of your meals so you are left satisfied afterward, because you were hungry going into the meal. Think of snacks as a way to control hunger so you don't go into meals starving. If it helps, rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10 throughout the day. Consider feelings of starvation, stuffed, low blood sugar or bloated to help tweak the diet so your food choices help to fuel your lifestyle and training routine.
So next time you consider the following 400-calorie "snack" of a "super fruit" greek yogurt parfait and 2 fig newtons