Elizabeth asks, “Do you have a recommendation for a healthy late afternoon snack?”
Elizabeth, thank you for asking this question. Most people assume that all snacking will cause you to put on pounds and that three meals are all you need, but there is good science behind eating smaller portions more frequently. Studies found that people who customarily ate a fourth meal each day, but gave up that fourth meal, ended up gaining weight because they ate more at their other meals.
Snacking is important for many reasons:
Prevention of disease and diabetes
Protection against aging
Prevention of constipation
Maintenance of mental acuity
Promotion of happy and calm feelings
The key to healthy snacking is the right balance of macronutrients, i.e., carbohydrates, protein and good fats, as well as portion control. A healthy, nutritious snack should include some produce, fiber and a little fat or protein (around 5 grams) to help keep you satisfied until your next meal. If you end up skipping your snack, and wait too long between meals, you disrupt your blood sugar levels, which usually leads to overeating at your next meal.
Eating every few hours actually helps with weight management by preventing a cycle of starving and then stuffing yourself with whatever is available because you are afraid that you won’t be able to eat again for hours.
Knowing that you will be able to eat healthy snacks throughout the day helps to keep you from eating whatever is around and prevent “fearful eating.”
Eating foods that keep you satisfied longer will stabilize your blood sugar, providing you with a more continuous stream of fuel into your bloodstream.
This helps you to maintain energy and prevents peaks and crashes in blood sugar.
Snacking helps you to make good choices and stay in control: When you snack properly, you are more likely to make better food choices throughout the day. Eating every few hours stabilizes your blood sugar, as well as keeps you fuller longer (satiety).
Here are My Favourite Healthy Go-To Snacks:
4 ounces of Greek yogurt (or plain non-dairy yogurt) with a spoonful of chia seeds and 10 blueberries
1 slice of large tomato with one slice of fresh mozzarella and basil leaf
2 teaspoons of natural nut butter with celery sticks, or an apple
10 walnuts and 3 dried apricots
1 tablespoon hummus and baby carrots/celery
2 ounces smoked turkey smeared with 1 teaspoon chopped olives and rolled up in 1 piece romaine lettuce
1 cucumber peeled and sliced with ¼ avocado (cut into pisces) and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
A bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries and a splash of (dairy or dairy-free) milk
1 or 2 hard boiled eggs
Make sure to pack yourself a snack each day. Pack snacks like:
Portioned nuts, or seeds,
An apple and a container of 2 tablespoons of nut butter,
Carrots and celery with a tablespoon of hummus.
Buying pre-packaged snacks are great if they are whole ingredients, such as fruit, veggies, nuts or seeds. Multi-ingredient pre-packaged snack foods, such as bars, mixes and crackers usually tend to be less healthful.
Also keep in mind, there is a strong link to snacking and mood, as well as depression and anger management. A study at the University of Wales showed that women who were given snacks reported being in a better mood, were sharper mentally, and performed better on a word-recall task. Whether you work from home, or at the office, being in a better mood and helping with anger management is worth an apple and a tablespoon of nut butter. If you are not sure, ask your coworkers.