Everyone snacks and just about everyone feels guilty about it — at least some of the time.
We justify snacking by buying into the theory du jour: small meals during the day are healthful; regular snacks are a good way to maintain weight; our bodies crave certain snacks for nutritional balance.
While there might be some truth to these theories, we are just as (more?) likely to snack because we’re bored … anxious … lonely … or because the potato chips, ice cream or sugary soda is there.
In the end, it’s not wrong to snack, but there are better ways to do it than by grabbing a candy bar or handful of tortilla chips. Healthy snacks can boost your energy and make you better able to accomplish your daily tasks.
When you decide to switch to healthy snacks from snacks that you know are not good for you, consider the following five tips:
1. Know Your Environment: Think about where you tend to reach for a snack. Your car? Your office desk? The sofa in front of the television?
Once you identify these environmental triggers, make a decision to adjust the kind of snacks you bring to them.
2. Forget Packaging: Plain and simple, avoid it. Too often the snacks that come wrapped in cellophane or plastic are salty, sweet, fatty — or all of the above.
3. Go Fresh: Think about fresh fruit, leftover vegetables, rice cakes with peanut butter or almond butter. Browse the farmer’s markets that abound in the summer. You won’t be able to resist the fresh bounty!
4. Make Your Own: Make your own hummus (easy with canned chickpeas), customized trail mix, fruit salad, or vegetable soup. Keep these on hand.
Homemade applesauce, pureed berries, and roasted and herbed veggies are all great ideas for snacks to have in the ‘fridge. Want ice cream? Try cold applesauce topped with a dollop of yogurt, instead.
5. Upgrade: Rather than potato chips, think raw carrots and apples when you crave something crunchy. Make them interesting by sprinkling the apples with cinnamon or serving them with rice cakes. A handful of almonds or peanuts goes a long way to satisfying that crunch-munch craving. A few pieces of dried fruit hit the spot when you need something sweet.
These kinds of snacks are highly nutritious. Plus, they satisfy most cravings far more than salty or sweet packaged snacks full of empty calories.
Once you decide to change your ways, you will never feel physically or psychologically deprived. You soon will feel so much better that the idea of the pretzels and ice cream cones of the bad old days will lose their appeal.
What could be better?
Debbie Barbiero is a certified health and life coach based in Connecticut. Her website is www.debshealthyplate.com