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Mindful or Mindless: The anatomy of nutritious snacks

As Americans, we are notorious snackers.

It is part of our culture and ingrained into our heads that we need to snack, and if we don’t, we may starve. The rest of the world doesn’t snack and it is not part of their culture. Americans fear hunger, and that is something to address. yogurt!

When I was in university in Paris, my friend’s kids would come home from school and have a yogurt or fruit.  I,  on the other hand, was always armed with protein bars and powders as if I were  preparing for a bomb shelter or a picnic. Everyone thought I was the crazy American, which I was.  I had a constant fear of hunger, despite the fact that I was in the middle of Paris, the gastronomic capital of the world.

Is there anything wrong with snacking?

NO!!! But it depends on WHY you are snacking and WHAT you are snacking on. It is common to have a hunger dip in the afternoon, especially if you didn’t have breakfast or if you are a caffeine drinker. A small nibble during the day can boost your blood sugar and aid  your concentration.

A few questions to ask yourself before mindlessly grabbing a snack:

Are you thirsty?

Dehydration disguises itself as hunger.  Sometimes we grab a latte or a cookie when in fact we really just a need a drink of water.  Have a glass of pure water BEFORE considering a snack. Remember, only water quenches thirst.  Tea, juice and soda are beverages.

Are you filling an emotional void?

Is the thing you are actually craving, time with a lover or friends, or do you really just need a hug? Sometimes we mistake hunger as a need for connection. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true! Cookies or ice cream seem like they can fill that empty feeling but they just can’t.  Try calling a friend first. Trust me, I have been this way too many times and gone through way too many expensive chocolate bars. I have been amazed how the hunger subsides after a quick Skype chat!

Are you having a craving?

This is an interesting one. Cravings can be nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances or even anxiety. Sometimes we crave crunchy potato chips because we just got in a fight with a boyfriend or a boss. Anxiety can wreak havoc on the body.  We ladies know hormone spikes all too well. They are real—but perhaps this is something to check out with a doctor and not ignore.

Are you bored?

Eating is not entertainment. Although dinner with friends IS an activity, eating to fill time is not.  My suggestion? Go for a walk, call a friend or find something else to do.  My food shrink used to say, “get away from the crack.” In other words, if you are bored, sitting at home around all of your nibbly foods, opening and closing your refrigerator, maybe you should go elsewhere.

Do you fear hunger? 

We are blessed and food is available to us most of the time. There is something to be said for planning ahead, but sometimes you can plan a little TOO much.  A small bag of sprouted almonds is most likely just enough to get you over a low blood sugar hump.

Nothing Takes the Taste Out Of Peanut Butter

What are nutritious snacks?

 Fat + crunch  + a little bit of protein 

Why? Fat and protein will satisfy the hunger while crunching will satisfy the mental component necessary in snacking.

Mental component of snacking?

YES! As I said earlier, sometimes we are not REALLY hungry—we just need to munch. I don’t always agree with this but at times we just have to do it. (Of course I I have been guilty of this!) Should we do some soul searching and look for what that genuine desire is?  Most definitely. Chocolate will not take the place of a hug or a compliment—but if you happen to be low blood sugar as well, it will satisfy for the moment.

The following are five  nutritious snacks you can munch on MINDFULLY-

Meaning, not in the car, not while walking, not while talking on the phone.

Sit and eat—you may even eat less than you thought you would!

Lora’s Nutritious Snacks

1)    Celery with raw almond butter or raw tahini

2)    Nori sheets wrapped around avocado with cayenne pepper

3)    Crudité with hummus

4)    Greek yogurt with cacao nibs or granola (if you are vegan, adapt accordingly)

5)     Raw cabbage leaves with soft white goat cheese & Dijon mustard   

What are some of your favorite snacks? Do you munch when you are not hungry?

Please share them in the comments below. AND if you found this post enjoyable, please share it with someone who may enjoy it as well.




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