The next couple of blogs will focus on common nutritional mistakes I see initially in my clients.
There’s 23% more snacking going on this year than last. I bet even Santa is packing a few extra treats to get him through the night! According to Mintel’s research, Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015, half of adults snack two to three times a day. And while older generations grew up rarely snacking, millennials (age 21-38) report snacking four or more times a day and mostly snack for emotional or functional reasons, to cope with stress or improve energy. For older people snacking is associated with special occasions like games and gatherings. Sadly, nearly a quarter snack due to boredom. And probably the most significant finding is that 62% of people snack to satisfy a craving.
Is It A Snack Or A Meal?
The first thing to consider before judging snacking habits is to understand the intent. Millennials apparently often use their snacking in place of a meal. The other reasons – special occasions, boredom and cravings are a different animal. Each requires a different strategy.
Many of my clients in the beginning are surprised that the chips, nuts, cheese, ice cream and baked goods from snacking are providing sometimes a third of their total daily calories – and not giving their body the nutrients it needs. Most people are unaware of the serving size on the label and are eating directly out of the container. And yes, nuts are high in those heart healthy unsaturated fats but 1/4 cup contains 200 calories. One ounce of most cheeses have over 9 gms of mostly saturated fat – amounting to over 100 calories. Some ice creams have over 7 gms of fat in a half cup serving. And ice cream, chips and baked goods are double villains, not only high in fat, but delivering a good portion of carbs – up to 22 gms in just one serving.
If It’s A Snack, Then Make It Deliver The Right Nutrients
Snacking should be a time to get some veggies and fruit. Not only are they low in fat and calories (providing the dip is low-fat), but they will help move number on your scale downward. The OmniHeart Trial determined that a diet focused on vegetables and fruits reduced systolic blood pressure, as well as heart disease-causing LDL and triglycerides. These foods can also reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer. The OmniHeart study recommends 11 daily servings of veggies and fruits based on a 2000 calorie diet.
I recommend my clients aim to get a veggie or small carb and protein as their snack. Putting more emphasis on non-starchy veggies will reduce the calories, provide good fiber and water. Add a good dip like hummus, whipped cottage cheese with chive and spices or herbed plain fat-free Greek yogurt will give you the protein to stave off hunger. Here are some good snack ideas:
- Wasa crackers topped with low-fat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of fruit
- 1/2 peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
- Cut up veggies with hummus, whipped cottage cheese dip or Greek yogurt dip
- Low fat cottage cheese with fruit
- Hard-boiled egg with fruit
- 2 tbsp of nuts with 1 tbsp of raisins
- 3 cups of air popped popcorn with spray oil and light salt
But You Say You Want A Little “Some’in, Some’in” To Snack On
Well, I get it. We all need a little something chocolately or crunchie or creamie. But how about if things actually still fit my goal of having adequate protein and slow burning carbs? Some of my desserts contain more than the usual amount of protein and are high in fiber. Both these things are important because they prevent a sudden rise in blood sugar which is the precursor to most cravings. Want something chocolaty? My Divine Chocolate cake is made with oat flour, cocoa powder and chia seeds making it high in fiber and higher in protein than most chocolate cakes. Want something creamy and crunchie? My Quinoa custard is made with Greek yogurt, quinoa, raisins and eggs also making it high in protein and fiber. My Mango frozen yogurt is made with fruit and Greek yogurt, making it high in protein. Every dessert I make I try to enhance my adding ingredients to boost fiber, protein or both.
Breaking Old Snack Habits
I was a chip-aholic before I knew better. And I confess there still are times where the craving hits me. But on those rare occasions I keep it small by buying a small serving.
In general, what has worked for me and for many of my clients who successfully lose weight and keep it off, is to eat a breakfast with adequate protein to help control hunger, keep unhealthy snacks out of the house and out of eyesight at work, drink plenty of water, seltzer or tea, and pay attention to hunger levels, never allowing ravenous hunger to develop. Snacks have many purposes but packing healthy ones will keep you from packing on the pounds.