Eating well is easiest when you have time to prepare foods and stick to a schedule. But… life. It gets busy. As we’re running from point A to point B, good habits can fall by the wayside as convenience and speed take priority. The good news: it doesn’t have to be this way! Start smart snacking, with a few healthy grab and go snacks in your arsenal, and you can face the day – an unexpected meeting, extra-long soccer practice, a traffic jam, or post-workout hunger pangs – with confidence.
The Keys to Smart Snacking
Before we get to what to eat, let’s talk about when to eat it. Snacks are meant to keep you going until you can eat a meal. They help maintain energy levels, concentration, and mood. Only snack when you are truly hungry, your meal will be later than expected, or you are burning extra energy (e.g., just completed a workout). It helps to snack around the same time every day (if you need one) and avoid unplanned eating events – especially at night.
Now, what to eat when hunger strikes and you need a pick-me-up? Opt for:
- High Protein Foods. All right, so the point of a snack is to keep you satisfied until your meal. It’s all about protein, people! Not only does it help build and repair muscle, this mighty macronutrient helps you stay full longer and fight hunger pangs. Our favorite protein-filled healthy grab-and-go snacks: peanut butter or your favorite nut butter, nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt (if you have a fridge or cooler handy), protein bars, cottage cheese, and high-quality, all-natural meat sticks. Invest in a few reusable containers and make up some snack packs for the week. You can do apple slices, almonds, and nut butter, a Sweetwood FATTY hickory-smoked meat stick and string cheese, or no-bake energy bites (mix nut butter with uncooked oats, honey, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and, if you like, some dark chocolate chips. Yum!
- High Fiber Foods. Fiber is a must for digestive health, optimal cholesterol levels, and stable blood sugar levels. You’ll also feel full longer, so you won’t be as tempted to reach for the salty, sugary, high-calorie snacks that are so readily available. For on-the-go fiber, pack a few apples, bananas, and oranges, which travel well, veggie sticks (broccoli, carrots), roasted chickpeas, hummus, edamame, an instant lentil and quinoa bowl, or popcorn (sprinkle with some nutritional yeast for a yummy addition). Again, think ahead and prep once or twice a week to help with smart snacking. Separated containers can allow you to pack up healthy, portion-controlled snacks that you can just grab and go. Saving money is definitely a bonus!
- Hydrophilic Foods. These are foods that are water-absorbent and contain soluble fiber. They’ll also keep you full longer. Oranges, pears, chickpeas, chia seeds, kale chips, and seaweed snacks are great options. Many of these foods are available prepared and packaged for convenience. You can also take an evening once a week or so to roast up some chickpeas, slice veggies and fruit, prepare seed and nut mixes, and make your own snack packs that contain customized combos of these options. The key is ensuring you have them when – and where – you need them.
Healthy grab and go snacks in the car, in your bag/purse, in your briefcase, in your desk, in your gym locker, etc., make it easy to eat well even when you’re on the go.