Posted on September 29 2020
Snacking has always been a contentious subject among dieting advocates and healthy eating enthusiasts. It certainly is not for everybody. Traditionally associated with mass-market sweets and chips, snacking has maintained a notoriety that has put it front and center in many nutrition discussions.
But snacking has its benefits too. Pregnant women and lactating mothers can make sure to meet their nutritional needs by supplementing their meals with light eats. Snacking can also fill the gaps in the dietary requirements of children, the elderly, and the very busy. Athletes and weight watchers can better manage their caloric intake by including snacking in their daily meal plans.
A Question of Quality
In many cases, poor choices prevent the public from reaping the dietary benefits of snacking. Even though stores are not lacking for healthier alternatives, goods steeped in salt, sugar, and fat remain popular supermarket picks. Nutritionally empty snacks are often tossed into shopping carts without much thought (and often out of habit), eventually crowding out wholesome options in the food cupboards of many homes. While mindful eating is always on the table, the junk food business remains a profitable industry.
More Than Wholesome Replacements
To make the most of snacking, replace your favorite junk foods with wholesome light eats. To make the shift to healthy snacking both workable and satisfying, make sure to choose items that are also affordable, tasty, and convenient.
Snacking within your budget helps when you want to make a habit out of eating nutritious bites. Simplicity is important. Baked veggie chips and a homemade guacamole dip may sound like an awesome snack, but money and time may become an issue later on if you keep on prepping restaurant-grade eats. You want your snacks to be nourishing, not fancy.
Also, bland and unappetizing eats might altogether discourage you and your family from wholesome snacking. Children, for one, will most likely choose a chocolate chip cookie over a batch of kale chips. Luckily, when it comes to snacking, healthy and tasty are not mutually exclusive. You can find a slew of snacking options that are both yummy and nutritious.
Finally, snacking must never inconvenience you. It should be as quick and trouble-free as walking to your pantry and opening up a bag of food. Consider pre-portioning your snacks with a selection of vacuum sealed goodies. Overly complicated snacks, for the most part, are out of the question, as prep time must be kept to a minimum. You will end up making convenient but unhealthy choices later on if you begin with wholesome but impractical snacks.
Start With Your Pantry
Kick off your new and improved snacking habit by cleaning up your pantry. Your pantry, after all, is where you go to every time you want a quick snack. Whether it be for a light after-workout bite or a tasty at-home movie companion, you invariably look to your trusty cupboard to meet your daily snacking needs.
But how do you do it exactly? Do you throw away your packs of crackers and corn puffs to make space for bags of various greens and beans? How do you replace your previous unhealthy choices, really, without upsetting too much your palate, budget, and schedule?
The key, simply put, is to make small changes at first. Pinpoint your favorites. Then, find replacement bites that are close in flavor and consistency to your best-loved snacks. For easy switching, group your light eats into categories. Taste and texture groupings work best.
Look for the Right Crunch
We naturally crave crunchy foods. Our ancestors chewed on hard-bodied insects, and who will pick the soggy counterpart of a crisp carrot when the latter is available? To us, crunchiness indicates freshness, which in turn means nourishment.
But supermarket shelves are full of crunchy snacks that can ruin your diet. The most popular potato chips, for example, provide only unhealthy fats and simple carbohydrates. To get your crunchy fix while staying healthy, chew instead on chickpeas and nuts like pecans, cashews, and almonds. Add some extra flavor to your nuts with our Northern Valley Spice Co. Spring Break Seasoning. Try any of these options for a good crunch: avocado chips, eggplant chips, sweet potato chips, baked apple chips or fauxtato chips (they're made with radishes). You can also try vegan pops and grain-free chips that are nutritious and low in sodium.
Worth Your Salt
Your body requires sodium to work properly. Half of the chemical duo known as salt, sodium is important in water and blood volume control. Sodium also plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function.
But too much sodium is bad for you. So, to not go overboard when satisfying your cravings for salty snacks, munch instead on low-sodium nuts and veggie chips. Canned sardines on unsalted crackers are delicious and packed with protein and essential oils. Olives, usually preserved in salt, contain fiber and antioxidants.
Find That Sweet Spot
The reward center of your brain fires up every time you consume something sweet. That bite of cake or gulp of soda cues your brain to release dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that affects your mood and behavior. Simply put, you get a feel-good high every time you ingest sugar.
But sugar's negative effects on the body are well known. So, satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your sugar consumption in check. Think less sugar, and when you're thinking of eating something sweet, think wholesome sweets. Dried fruits provide a sugar boost backed by fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients. Sugar-free jams and unsweetened peanut butter are perfect for making healthy sandwiches. Experiment with peanut butter protein balls, watermelon homemade fruit roll-ups or a delicious fresh fruit smoothie. Dark chocolate lets you enjoy the goodness of cacao without the sugar guilt.