Ever had a day where you are working and you realize you are hungry? Or a day where you are doing so well with your diet and then you get a craving for something sweet? And what is worse, is that you decide to go ahead and give in to your sweet tooth or to those hunger pangs only to eat something that blows your diet for the entire day. Well, this happens to more people than you might think. The problem is how do we satisfy the munchies without blowing our diets or eating foods that will just completely bog down our metabolisms.
Hopefully after reading this article I will be able to give you some different ideas and will help you save your diet and save yourself from a climbing number on the scale. With summer coming up, there will be more snacking and less eating real meals as we are out doing office parties and doing things outdoors more.
From savory to sweet, snacks of all types are welcome additions to anyone’s diet and day. The key is to choose smartly and to choose a natural snack to satisfy the munchies which will keep you from having to sacrifice taste and nutrition.
Sure, sometimes we just want a snack. Not a meal, just a bite of something good. And it has to be the right kind of bite. If you’re craving a sweet little something, a salty little something will not do. Snacks tend to fall into four basic categories: the power snack, the sweet snack, the savory snack, and of course the party snack.
Power snacks are good for when you are running behind for a dinner date or you are about to hit the gym and you need something quick and easy and you know you are running on low fuel or an empty stomach. A full meal would sideline you for at least an hour, but if you don’t eat something, you know you’ll hit the wall halfway through your workout. In either case, what you need is a light snack that will deliver enough energy to keep your engine running for a couple of hours. And energy means carbohydrates. Since a pre-workout snack should also be easy to digest, some athletes like theirs in liquid form. Others like fruit, which delivers energy quickly. Bananas are a power-snack favorite because they deliver lots of carbohydrates plus minerals with almost no fat. Grapes are another good choice, because they’re bursting with juice to keep you hydrated during workouts. With grapes, you can even freeze them and they are even just as yummy. Even our children love frozen grapes, so don’t think that you can’t freeze them and eat them later or bring them along with you to the gym or work!
There are also zillions of energy bars available which are designed to be eaten before, during, or after workouts. Flavors run from fruit varieties to peanut butter and chocolate. I personally prefer protein bars that taste good such as apple cinnamon protein bars. Don’t be afraid of protein or energy bars, they can be our friends. Just do not eat more than one! Remember you are trying to satisfy yourself not create a digestive nightmare for yourself later on.
Among the latest power “snacks” on the market are sports gels. These gooey substances also come in a variety of flavors and are meant to provide a boost of energy on the run.
The sweet snack is what you want when you want something sweet, but not exactly dessert. The sweet snack provides a bit of change for a cup of coffee or tea, most often at mid-morning or bedtime. Once again, fruit is a natural choice. A ripe banana is a simple, nutritious way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Granola bars also make ideal snacks. However, be sure to read ingredients carefully, as some varieties have very high fat contents.
Fruit chews and dried fruits also make excellent choices at snack time. The drying process concentrates their sweetness. And they’re neat to eat on the run with no messy juice. Most natural foods stores have a wide selection of dried fruits. Try dried apples, pears, apricots, peaches, pineapple and banana chips, in addition to the classic dried fruit which is raisins. You can also find dried foods these days in your favorite grocery market or even at your local shopping center stores such as Target. I love getting the fat-free dried fruits and eating them as a small snack in the middle of the day or with my evening meal.
Organic chips and salsa come as a savory snack. These types of snacks are typically found at your local parties you attend or on a hot summer day after you have spent time with your friends and family working out or just hanging out. Just read the labels. Learning what is good and healthy takes time, but you can treat yourself to chips and dip if you remember to eat only a small portion. Along with organic chips and salsa, I recommend all natural rice cakes, organic popcorn without the oil. With organic popcorn with no oil, there is almost zero fat so you can enjoy your savory snack and add a little sea salt or cayenne pepper to spice it up.
The party snack is closely related to the savory snack, but must feed more people. The party snack is also the snack most likely to substitute for a meal, making variety and nutrition important. Rule of thumb is if you are in doubt, read the label. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a party snack or snacking with a party, just make sure you do it within reason. Chex mix is one party snack I enjoy and it is low in calories and low in fat.
You now have the tools to satisfy the munchies. So don’t be afraid when your stomach starts to growl at that mid-day meeting that you can’t excuse yourself and grab something light to eat. You can. Don’t be afraid to eat an hour before going to workout or an hour afterwards. Just remember to read labels, ask questions, and do not take nutrition lightly. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.