You know you need to eat consistently throughout the day to keep your insulin levels stable, maintain a serene temperament, and to fuel all those workouts you promised yourself you’d get to this year, but planning and packing snacks is just a pain. As with any healthy habit, providing a day’s-worth of quality nourishment to sustain a moving body is a fine art that takes time to establish. Here’s a guide to packing a day’s worth of snacks to keep you running from sun up to sun down:
Take the time
You’re going to need 15- 20 minutes in the morning to start. Packing appropriate snacks is like any skill so give yourself a break and take the time to get it right. You’ll get better at making appropriate choices and become more efficient the more you practice this skill.
Try to include carbohydrate, fat and protein with every snack. Carb is your fast-burning fuel, fat is slow- burning fuel, and protein is primarily used for muscle repair/rebuilding. Your body can convert macronutrients to obtain what it needs, but this is not as efficient as using the real deal.
Micronutrients and calories
Make your snacks nutrient-dense with enough vitamins and minerals and you will eat just what you need to fuel a healthy body. You need both calories and micronutrients and if you are lacking either of these, your body will figure out a way to get them, either through gorging at your next meal or converting muscle tissue to sugars for fuel.
Carb: low fat crackers, rice cakes, veggies, fruits, breads, grains, low fat cookies, chocolate
Fat: nuts, nut butters, oils/butter, high fat dairy, high fat dairy, chocolate
Protein: beans, hummus, low fat meats, low fat/low sugar yogurt, low fat dairy, soy products, protein shakes, ground flax
Tickle your taste buds
The tongue is equipped with taste buds to sense sweet, salty, bitter, savory, tart and any combination of these pleasures. Including all these taste sensations in your ‘snack pack’ gives you something to be excited about… no matter what happens in your day you have something delicious to eat! You are guaranteed to improve your mood and lighten your load when you give yourself a treat that enhances your good health.
Beverages and gum
Even if you’re not necessarily hungry and have packed a nice variety of snacks, it is common to want to put something in your mouth throughout the day. Fresh water, tea, coffee and other beverages often fulfill this need without overdoing your caloric intake. Low cal sweeteners such as stevia or splenda and/or a touch of something creamy make a hot or cold beverage between meals or snacks a satisfying option. Gum is also a good choice if you have the urge to chew but know you’ve already had enough to eat at that given moment.
Here’s a sample of what a day’s worth of eating may look like with the right snacks:
Breakfast: oatmeal with 1 scoop protein powder, walnuts, ground flax, dried cranberries, dash of cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt, stevia, and almond milk
Snack: two slices lean protein such as turkey or chicken, ¼ cup dried cranberries and 8 almonds
Lunch: steamed sweet potato with olive oil and dash of sea salt, yogurt and blueberries
Snack: carrots/peppers/snap peas with hummus, handful of roasted soy nuts or pumpkin seeds
Dinner: salad greens with baked salmon, steamed Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, zucchini, kidney beans, pecans, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Dessert/Snack: ½ cup chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
Beverages throughout the day: Water, green tea, coffee, herbal tea, milk (regular, soy, almond, coconut)
Have fun with your snacks! There is nothing better than providing just the right type and amount of fuel you need to move well throughout your day, so give packing snacks a try but remember not to bite off more than you can chew… baby step your way to packing nutritious snacks and you’ll soon find that you’ve become quite the expert at keeping yourself healthy, happy and well-fed!