Should you be snacking? And if so, on what?
There’s a message floating around health culture that snacking is a negative thing, that it means you don’t have self control, that it sabotages your health, and that you “shouldn’t” feel hungry between meals.
Have you heard or wondered about those things too?
Today we’re pulling snacking into the light and taking about the benefits. Thank goodness..because snacks are delicious. Amen?
You can find an argument for just about anything in regards to how, what, and when to eat. I’m not here to add to the noise or jump on one study vs another, because it can all add more CONFUSION than clarity. But there IS one thing that has proven very trustworthy over time…it’s the thing that never misses a heart beat, doesn't forget to breath, can aid in the creation of human life, and creates millions of new cells every day without you even thinking about it. Yep.....YOUR BODY.
Your body is the guide you’ve been looking for to tell you what, when, and how to eat.
You might be thinking, "Christina, my body does NOT feel trustworthy." And that’s totally ok and normal, because as we age, we often dissociate from our instincts without even meaning to. But take heart, because persistently tuning in over time, challenging the "rules" of health/fads/diets/ideal BMI's and so much wonky health jargon, along with some gentle guidance if necessary, will bring you right back home to the confidence that your body really does know best.
So if the body is inherently trustworthy, that means that when you feel hunger, it's a GOOD thing. It’s your body’s way of saying “I’m out of energy, fuel me up please!" It doesn’t care if you ate an hour ago, if you didn’t exercise today, or if the “plan” only accounts for a specific amount of calories. Remember when you were a child and you didn’t think about suppressing hunger cues (you screamed at the top of your lungs until someone filled that tank!). That same body still knows what it needs!
Our job is not to micromanage or decide if our body is right or wrong. Our job is to listen and take the best care of it that we can.
A few other things to consider about snacking:
-The digestive system typically functions best by eating every 3-4 hours and then having a window of rest as you sleep so that it can fully detoxify and clean up shop in preparation for the next day.
-When you feed your body consistently, it keeps your metabolism healthy. By suppressing hunger cues, your body thinks it’s not going to get what it needs, so it stores calories for later use, and you feel totally fatigued.
-If you don’t feel hunger cues within a few hours of eating (unless it was an abnormally large meal), its likely that your body has suppressed your hunger cues over time due to restriction. You can heal your hunger cues by eating every 3-4 hours even if you don’t FEEL hungry. This will teach your body that it can trust that food is coming, and that it’s ok for it to speak, because you’re going to listen to it.
-More hunger = more food intake = more energy to USE (the energy you eat is used to heal your body, move, exercise, clean your kitchen, make your bed, form thoughts, and allow your organs to function….you need fuel for ALL of that).
-If you’re fueling your body with nutrient dense foods, snacking does NOT equal fat storage, it equals more energy to output. If it DOES store it, it might be because you need the storage in order to function more optimally, or because there are other factors involved in weight regulation.
-There isn’t a right or wrong amount for a snack - it could be 1/2 a banana, or a bowl of pasta, or anything in between.
Ok, so WHAT should you snack on???
-Most importantly, snack on what you're CRAVING. If you know it isn't going to make your body feel well, ask yourself if there is a more nourishing but similar option. (ex: dark chocolate with almonds vs a twix bar)
-Add a healthy fat: this will keep you satiated so that you don’t mindlessly snack on things that have less nutritional content and leave you wanting more. It will also increase your nutrient absorption. Double win.
-Think “food that grows” and you can’t go wrong.
Here are a few of my go-to’s that don't require any baking, are plant-based, and include a healthy fat for nutrient density so your body is optimally fueled.
- Vegetables with hummus or dressing (carrots, red or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, jicama, tomatoes, etc)
- Celery with nut butter
- Pear with almond butter
- Apple with peanut butter and cinnamon (warm up the apple for a warm treat)
- Banana with nut butter and dried coconut flakes
- Unsweetened yogurt (almond, coconut, or soy milk variations if you're a plant-based eater) with ground flaxseed (for healthy fats and fiber) topped with fruit, granola, or maple syrup
- Dates dipped in coconut butter
- Dates stuffed with dark chocolate and dipped in peanut butter
- Popcorn made with coconut oil topped with nutritional yeast (store bought or home made with a Popcorn Spinner)
- Smoothie with banana, berries, avocado, spinach, cacao, and nut butter (or any other variation)
- Rice cake with hummus and cucumber slices, or with nut butter
- Toast (sprouted, gluten-free, or whole grain) with ghee or avocado, and garlic salt
- Homemade trail mix with mixed nuts, dark chocolate chunks (one that doesn’t contain milk or cream and is 72% or higher to receive the full antioxidant benefits), unsweetened coconut flakes, and seeds
What do you love to snack on??? Share in the comments below!
P.S. If snacking or nutrition in general feels hard or overwhelming, you don't have to do it alone. Book a free discovery session with me and we'll dive deeper into the wholeness, freedom, and health you were created for.