Snack Attacks – How to Snack Well

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

I’m a snacker. On any normal day, I eat halfway between breakfast and lunch, and again around 3-4 p.m. My stomach is growling and I’m legitimately hungry, so I eat. Lesson learned: this also keeps me from overeating at lunch and dinner.

Whether you are a fan of snacks or not, what are the best choices when it comes to snacks between meals? A good rule of thumb: Include protein and fiber with every snack.

Where do we get protein and fiber? Protein is found in red meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt, beans and legumes, nuts, nut butters and soy/meat alternatives. Fiber is found is fruits, veggies and whole grains. Combine the two and you have a snack!

If you are currently on cancer treatment, your body needs more protein for healing, and the extra fiber may help ease constipation from nausea and pain medications. If you are done with treatment, or looking to maintain or lose weight, protein and fiber will help keep food in your stomach longer, delaying digestion and keeping you satisfied for the next two or more hours.

But what do you choose?

This depends on your taste buds, your food preferences and your energy level for food preparation, but here are my favorite combinations:

  • Peanut butter with fruit. Peanut butter goes well with sliced apples or bananas.  Bananas are less labor intensive if your energy level is low. Crack open a jar of creamy natural peanut butter (with no added sugar or unhealthy fats), a knife, a small banana and you are set!
  • Grapes and sliced cheese. This sweet and salty combo goes even better with a glass of vino; however, if you are unable to drink alcohol due to medication or treatment, simply enjoy without. Try different varieties of grapes and cheeses to see what suits your palate best. Whole Foods often has free cheese samplings each week if you have one nearby and the energy to go explore!
  • Plain Greek yogurt with berries. Greek yogurt is rich in protein and lower in sugar than other yogurts. Taste different brands to see which you like best. Since berries are out of season, buy them frozen and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. If this concoction needs a dash of sweetness, add one individual packet of raw sugar to the berries overnight and serve!
  • Hummus with cucumbers and red bell pepper strips. If you can make your own hummus in a food processor, this will taste even better; however, if you only have the time and energy to buy the pre-made version, that will work too. Try to find a brand of hummus with few preservatives, slice your veggies, and you are good to go!
  • Homemade trail mix. My favorite combination is cashews, pistachios, almonds and dried tart cherries. Let your imagination guide you to try new combinations. Toss in a few dark chocolate (70% cacao or greater) chips, or experiment with different nuts and dried fruits for variety!

One disclaimer: If you have resolved to lose weight this year, adding snacks will add calories.  Be sure to increase your activity, decrease your portions at meals and/or keep snacks small to keep your calories in check!

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