If you remember my post about dietetic internship angst and why I want to be an RD a few weeks ago, I’m excited to finally report that I hit the “submit” button on the application (eek!).
Send me warm, positive vibes until mid-April when I find out if I got in, ok?
And while you’re at it, maybe some positive Achilles vibes too! Still making some progress this week, so fingers crossed it keeps up.
- Wednesday XT: 40 mins spin bike, 20 mins elliptical, lifting, stretching and PT
- Thursday XT: 30 mins spin bike, 30 mins elliptical, core work, stretching and PT
So today I would love to talk about a very popular topic – snacking. Some of you guys had questions about whether snacking is good or bad, if there is an ideal snack combination and when the best time to snack is.
First of all, I think snacking is great and in many instances, necessary. I for one do not enjoy when my stomach growls at 3:00 p.m. during work. That said, I also think some of us get into trouble with mindless snacking, or snacking when we’re not really hungry, which can contribute to your daily caloric intake way more than you think.
How often should we snack?
This really varies for each person. I usually have a snack between lunch and dinner, and then one after dinner, because this is usually when I get hungry. With the exception of the morning, I rarely go more than three hours without eating something. This helps keep my metabolism up and provides a steady stream of (much needed) energy.
If you stick with eating two or three big meals per day with no snacking, you may be more likely to overeat because you get so hungry in between meals. Your body is pretty good at telling you when it wants a snack, we just need to listen to it!
What should we snack on?
This is actually a great question! Some snacks seem so harmless, yet they may be the answer as to why our jeans aren’t quite fitting. I try to combine nutrients (like some carbohydrates, a little protein and fat) into a snack to make sure it’s well rounded and satisfying.
Fat and fiber keep us full for the longest period of time, and I like to have a little peanut butter or cheese with fruits and veggies, which helps keep me satiated until the next meal.
- Apples with peanut butter or grapes with a small piece of cheese
- Carrots and celery with peanut butter
- Chopped veggies with hummus
- A handful of trail mix
- Graham crackers with almond milk (I like to dip!)
- Container of yogurt with some almonds on top
- Whole grain crackers with peanut butter, hummus or cheese
I try to stay away from processed stuff and stick with whole, nutrient dense foods when snacking. This not only helps control calories, but you know exactly what’s going into your body! So many fruits are perfectly pre-packaged for snacks – bananas, oranges, apples are so easy to throw into a bag and grab when you’re hungry.
When should we snack?
There is a huge misconception on when we “should” snack, in my opinion. The old “no eating after 8:00 p.m.” rule, for example. Just because you eat food later at night doesn’t mean you’ll automatically pack on the lbs.
What you’re eating and how much matter must be factored into this equation. For example, if your daily energy needs are around 2,000 calories and you only eat 1,500 during breakfast, lunch and dinner, then you may still be hungry after dinner. Since you still need 500 calories to meet your body’s needs, you need to eat! Your body doesn’t really care if this is after 8:00 p.m., it just wants its nutrients.
That said, I think nighttime eating gets a bad wrap because we do tend to overeat when it gets late. It’s easy to pack away a bag of chips or half a box of Peanut Butter Puffins (ahem…) while catching up on DVR or watching a movie, and we usually don’t need as much as we eat in situations like this. We also tend to reach for more calorie dense, comforting snacks late at night, like ice cream, cookies or candy.
Healthier substitutes, like my favorite Greek yogurt and peanut butter combo…
Are just as satisfying and delicious as ice cream, I promise.
I think just looking at your daily snacks and meals as a whole rather than thinking “ZOMG I’m hungry but I can’t eat after 8:00 p.m.!” or something similar can help you understand how much you need and how much you don’t.
For example, if you had your normal breakfast, lunch and midafternoon snack but a light dinner, then a nighttime snack probably makes sense. If you had a huge dinner, then maybe not so much. Balance out your day and look at the big picture!
Take a look at my Day in Food for an example of my snackage plan.
I hope this was helpful!
Question: Are you a snacker? Tell me about your snacking theories!