You’re on the couch in your lounge pants with your virtual meeting in session, your children are quietly keeping to themselves (yeah right!) and you’re hungry. Or, you just need something to snack on if you’re going to make it through this meeting. You open the pantry, and it’s full of the quarantine snacks you bought a couple of weeks ago.
Choosing snacks can be a challenge when there are so many options, and you don’t really know what you want. Many of us fight with the voices in our head that say, “I really want this, but I should eat that.” Use the tips below to choose snacks that not only taste good but give you the energy you need to get through your meeting and the day.
Decide what you're in the mood for
You know you want something to eat, but what sounds good? Is it the leftover chocolate chip cookies your son made last night? Is it the almonds and granola in the pantry? What about the fruit and yogurt in the fridge? While cookies may seem like the obvious choice, stop and think about more than just taste. Check-in with yourself to see what your body really needs. Think about how the snack will make you feel after eating it, not just at the moment.
Choose a snack with staying power After deciding what sounds good, think about whether that snack is going to give you lasting energy or give you a sugar rush and leave you crashing an hour later. You’ll also want to be sure that your snack isn’t going to leave you so full that you won’t have enough energy to generate high-quality work. The perfect snack combination includes a carbohydrate source and a protein source to create sustained energy. Without protein your blood sugar will quickly rise and fall, leaving you feeling hungry and sleepy soon after you eat. Since protein digests more slowly, adding protein to your carbohydrate will keep your blood sugar more stable and you’ll feel satisfied for longer.
Think about what’s missing in your diet
Before picking your snack, think about what you’ve eaten so far today. Did the Chick-fil-A sandwich and fries you had for lunch provide good sources of micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants? No! But it was quite tasty. So now, maybe it’s time to add a snack that provides these important elements that allow the body to function at its highest potential. Not only will fiber keep you feeling fuller longer, it also lowers the "bad" LDL cholesterol, helps maintain a healthy gut and controls blood sugar. Antioxidants are important because they oxidize free radicals that can accelerate the aging process and cause inflammation and cancer. Foods high in fiber and antioxidants are found in various fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Pick your snack
After thinking about all of these factors, choose your snack. Maybe it is the chocolate cookies, and that’s okay! Maybe you’ve been thinking about it all day and have waited for this moment. If so, enjoy your cookies with a glass of milk. But don’t forget to add fruits, vegetables and/or whole grains to your dinner, and maybe next time, plan to focus on foods with plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
Still, wondering what to eat? Here are some tasty, balanced snack ideas:
Vegetables with hummus and whole-grain crackers
An apple and peanut butter
Greek yogurt and fruit
Popcorn and mixed nuts
Protein and fruit smoothie
Dark chocolate, nut and seed trail mix
Learn more about healthy snacks and other programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by Kyla Sullivan Siota, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Mayo Clinic