Healthy eating should go hand in hand with a regular exercise routine, but lack of planning often leads to unhealthy food choices. We’re all on the run these days and once hunger hits, we grab whatever comes in our way. It’s easy to buy a bag of chips at a vending machine or stop at a fast food restaurant for a small French fry. These choices are empty calories, lower your energy and make you gain weight, even though you worked out beforehand. A filling snack should consist of a healthy protein, good fat and complex carb. All three macronutrients are necessary to deliver valuable nutrients to your diet, energize your body and mind and prevent overeating at meal time. It does require some planning, but with a little forethought, you can build a portion-controlled, on-the-go snack kit that’s nutritious and tasty. Your waistline and mood will thank you.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
• Unsalted nuts. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts. They provide filling protein and good fat but it’s important to pay attention to the portion size. A good rule is to eat a small handful of nuts, that’s about 10 almonds. Or choose your favorite nut butter and make a tasty snack like almond butter spread on a banana, or cashew butter on a whole grain cracker.
• Raw Veggies. They are full of micronutrients and very filling. Some veggies, like tomatoes or carrots, need a source of fat to make them more digestible and help with nutrient absorption. Add a source of healthy fat like olive oil, cheese, or hummus to make them more digestible. Good combos are carrots with hummus, tomatoes with mozzarella or celery with peanut butter.
• Fresh fruit. Fruits are a good choice for a morning snack because the sugar provides immediate energy and the fiber keeps you full until lunchtime. Pair it with nuts, nut butter or dairy products. A good choice is an apple with nut butter, couple of grapes with a piece of cheese, or a plain yogurt with a peach.
• Cheese. If you eat dairy, having a small slice of your favorite cheese will give you a complete protein, a little fat, and be very comforting. Try ½ cup of cottage cheese with whole grain crackers or a slice of whole wheat bread with a slice of low-fat cheese.
• Boiled eggs. Eggs are a powerhouse of protein. They are easy to prepare and transport. A serving is 1 hard-boiled egg or 3 hard-boiled egg whites.
• Sardines or tuna. If you like fish, you can buy small packets of wild-caught sardines or tuna, which travel very well.
• Water. Always remember to have water before your snacks or meals. Oftentimes we mistake being thirsty with being hungry. Rule of thumb is to have half of your bodyweight in ounces.
Think ahead and prepare your snacks for the day. It will take some time to get used to it, but like most things in life, practice makes perfect.