Strategic Snacking

Optimum Wellness Presented by King Soopers, Sponsored by MaraNatha Nut Butters

Author- Dr. James Rouse

Have you ever been in the midst of your busy day and were faced with a “vicious” snack attack? We’ve all been there. So, how do we prepare for those moments and what is the latest research when it comes to healthy snacking (f there is such a thing)? The strategies around snacking have been flip-flopping over the last 20 years literally year by year. Twenty to thirty years ago it was all about three meals a day. There was no snacking. Then 10 to 15 years ago, it was all about the six meals a day; and then it was the three meals and two snacks, mid-morning, mid-afternoon. Now the research strongly favors of intermittent fasting with little snacking. So when all is said and done what it comes down to is finding out what works best for your mood and metabolism and then making the best healthy choices from there.

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There’s a hunger hormone, it’s called ghrelin. Ghrelin basically causes that sensation of hunger in your stomach. When we allow it to be experienced, meaning that we don’t just eat every two or three hours because we think we “should,” but we actually allow our hunger to get to about a 5 or 6 (on a scale of 1 to 10), you will raise ghrelin levels, which is a good thing. When ghrelin is doing its job, healthy levels of growth hormone are supported. When we eat without feeling that sensation of hunger, we essentially are not allowing ghrelin to go to work on our behalf. It’s really important to pay attention to that hunger hormone and allow that hunger scale to support to us.

Now that we’ve made that clear, what are some good ideas for healthy snacking?

Healthy snacking begins centers around healthy carbs, healthy proteins and healthy fats.

  • Almonds. They’re highly portable. Somewhere between 25 to 30 almonds that could be in that one mid-morning snack or that mid-afternoon snack, whenever it is you’re going to be snacking, that’s a great way to go.
  • In grocery stores across the country, entire rows of shelves are now dedicated to snack bars and chips. Choose organically-based foods that contain whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and do not contain high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. They should be low in sugar and preferably not contain any added sugars.
  • Two ounces of either wild salmon or some organic chicken, is about 45 calories (16 to 18 grams of protein). That’s a very low calorie hit and if you want to mix that with some avocado (versus things like mayonnaise), that’s a great way to go. Put it on a whole grain cracker or organic corn chip, you have yourself a wonderful snack.
  • An ounce of organic cheese along with a serving of fresh fruit or organic crackers.
  • 1-2 tablespoons nut butter with half an apple (or a few celery sticks)
  • 6 ounces of plain whole-milk organic yogurt with hemp seeds or ground flax and cinnamon stirred in
  • 6 organic tortilla chips with ¼ cup black beans (or black bean dip) or hummus
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Right timing and right sizing your snacking can help you to maintain a healthy weight and metabolism and sustain your energy all day long! Begin your day with a healthy, balanced and substantial breakfast. If you feel hungry before lunch time, choose something from the list above. Lunch should also be one of your more substantial meals. Between lunch and dinner snacking can be super strategic since eating a smaller meal for dinner seems to be the best way to go for optimal sleep and metabolism.