You're not at your best when you're hungry; you're distracted, tired, and prone to become "hangry."
You want something, like a healthy snack, that will hold you over until the next meal and satisfy your taste buds. The question is, do you want to spend time making it or grab it on-the-go? Is it gluten-free? Does it have enough protein and fiber to provide you with the energy to do the things you love? Above all else, is it delicious? Whether trying to make it through your afternoon with a smile or feed your muscles after an endorphin-boosting bootcamp, you need fuel for your active body and mind. But of course, you want that snack to be healthy, delicious, and filling. The key to healthy snacking is being conscious of when and what you eat.
Here are seven things you should consider when you want to munch between meals.
1. Pre-plan your snacks for the week.
A little prep time goes a long way, so treat snacks like a mini-meal. These are some go-to options that are healthy, satisfying (fiber and protein-packed) and delicious:
- Protein and fiber-filled bars: If you need something that has an extra kick, a LUNA bar (now gluten-free) is great for your purse, gym bag, pantry or work stash. These nutrition bars, many covered in chocolate, are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and are made with 70% organic ingredients.
- Hummus and veggies: You can't go wrong with baby carrots, and hummus is its perfect companion. Plus, it has protein and lowers cholesterol. Try dipping fresh vegetables in this spicy garlic hummus to add some real flavor to your afternoon!
- Apples with peanut butter: This snack staple offers a nice blend of sweet and savory, requires no prep time (other than slicing) and is easy to take on-the-go.
- Smoothies: They're simple, tasty, and easy to make. Green smoothies are excellent because they can serve as a great source of fruits and vegetables in a more glorified form. Make your smoothie the night before to save yourself precious morning time.
2. Stay connected with yourself.
You might snack without even realizing what's driving you to eat. Give yourself the opportunity to learn to trust your body and your intuition. Listen to your body to find what it really needs, whether it's meditating, writing, or even stretching five minutes between meetings.
Staying engaged and aware allows you to be more mindful of your triggers and react accordingly. That way, when you reach for a snack, you will do so with the knowledge that you're about to give your body nourishment it craves. Treating yourself with kindness and compassion will not only help you choose a better snack, but it may also help you discover new passions.
3. Keep snacks out of arm's reach, but still accessible.
A great way to snack healthily at work is to keep food in the company kitchen, not at your desk. Removing immediate temptation allows you to focus on the work at hand rather than the food nearby. When you do need to grab a snack, take the long route to the kitchen, and use the stairs instead of the elevator. The quick exercise will get your blood flowing, and you'll feel rejuvenated afterwards. You may even realize that all your body needed was to get moving!
Movement combined with a balanced snack will give you the physical and mental energy needed to conquer your day. If your snack is delicious to boot, you'll have something to look forward to in the middle of the workday! LUNA bars come in 13 delicious flavors and are actually created to power you through that the midday dip. Added bonus: all LUNA bars are now gluten-free, making them a balanced snack for all dietary needs.
4. Snack smart...but don't snack all day.
Use snacks to hold you over until your next meal, not to graze throughout the day. Don't eat small snacks thoughtlessly rather than consume a full, well-rounded lunch. You want your body to fully digest food between meals, and you need to give it time to complete this task. If you are going to snack, choose something that will give you sustained energy, not just a quick rush with refined carbohydrates, sugar, and empty calories.
5. Before you snack, check in with your emotions.
Sometimes you may try to distract yourself from what is really bothering you by snacking throughout the day. Be conscious of what you are feeling, and make sure you take the time to care for yourself and your emotions. Write down what you're feeling when hunger strikes, and see if you notice patterns. Are you sad, mad or bored? All of the above? Try taking a walk, meditating, or calling a friend to tend to your emotional needs before reaching for a snack. If your hunger feels insatiable, take the time you need to care for all of you — including your emotions!
6. Make sure you're not thirsty.
Seems simple, but what is your body really telling you? We get so caught up on feeling hungry that sometimes, we don't even realize our bodies are actually calling out for hydration. In fact, studies show that thirst is often mistaken for hunger. You can be dehydrated without even realizing it! Try drinking water with lemon or brew some tea to see if that silences your cravings. Remember, the average person should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day!
7. Snack to get stronger and stay fuller longer.
Eating right after a tough workout can take your strength to the next level. Go for something protein-filled and easy to digest; it helps build muscle and fuel recovery. Carb and sugar-heavy snacks will weigh you down and make you feel sluggish later, but energy bars tend to have solid protein, healthy carbohydrates, and little fat. They're quick, compact, and helpful for athletes on the run. If you go the bar route, be careful to choose something high in fiber and protein and low in sugar, such as LUNA Protein bars (which pack a steady 12 grams of protein per serving). Giving your body proper post-workout nutrition will not only hold you over until your next meal, but it will also speed up the time needed for your body to conquer tomorrow's boot camp class.
Have compassion and be patient with yourself. Remember, changing your eating habits and learning to listen to your body is a marathon, not a sprint.