Sometimes you just want some new ideas. Or it’s a day where you just feel like mooching around and making a few things in the kitchen.
Snacking. As I said earlier this week on Facebook, I’m not a fan of snacking for most people as it often means they haven’t eaten properly in the previous meal, thus their need for a snack is due to roller coasting blood sugar levels which affects their stress hormones, energy and mood.
However, sometimes you just need to snack. And if you’ve eaten what you normally KNOW is a balanced meal with plenty of vegetables, a good hit of protein and some fat, but still feel hungry – then you should probably eat. And if you’re not sure what a balanced meal looks like, then check out Jamie’s blog discussing the Heart Foundation’s take on paleo – he outlines what his meals look like. Pretty simple. (And do read the whole post – it’s GREAT).
Ignoring your hunger cues is not good in the long term – yes, even if your goal right now is to lean up, if you’re eating well and exercising appropriately, then it’s likely your muscle mass is increasing and you need to feed it! Don’t use the scales as a guide to your progress – this is gravitational pull – nothing more. In the last 6 months I’ve gained 10 kg to help restore hormonal equilibrium to my over-stressed body – and while on paper it might look like a lot, visually it’s not what you would imagine it to be, as I’ve kept up weight training and gotten a lot stronger. Of course I’ve got more body fat, but I’m a lot healthier too because I’ve got more muscle; it’s had the opportunity to grow as it hasn’t been broken down to use as fuel (which can happen when you’re over-stressed). The scales tell you nothing about the composition of your body. To under fuel (even when trying to lean up) would put your body in a catabolic state, stripping muscle and potentially bone too if you go too low in calories (protein is the major component of bone, you know).
The more you listen to your body and NOT eat to a schedule, set calorie number or macro nutrient goal, the better you will be at at figuring out what your body needs. For most people, we lose this ability at a very early age, because we are told to ‘eat everything on our plates because there are starving children in Africa.’ I feel sorry for parents actually, as almost everyone I know blames their parents for a certain lack of intuition around their eating. It’s not their fault. They were told the same thing. The good news is, though, is that it’s not irreversible. We just have to start being more aware of what we eat (processed food which is quickly digested, low in fat or protein and not satisfying), how we eat (fast, slow), where we eat (at the table? in front of the TV?) and how much attention we are actually paying to what we eat (device use, TV etc). Here’s some quick tips about mindful eating. You can retrain yourself to listen to your body. It just takes time and effort, but it will be worth it. I’ve just ordered this book too – I’ve heard great things about it and think it will be a really valuable resource.
So back to snacks. Muesli bars, low fat fruit yoghurt and snack packs of Snax crackers are going to leave you hungrier than before you ate them. They are developed to provide the sensory pleasure to your brain that makes you want to eat more (called a Bliss point). They are also high in processed carbohydrate or sugar (especially that fruit yoghurt, these new yoghurt pouches have 4 teaspoons of sugar, around 3 of them from added sugar) which are just best avoided.
Here’s 31 other ideas in case you need some more inspo.
- A couple of hardboiled eggs (boil a dozen at the start of the week and make your way through them. They’ll last a good 5 days unpeeled).
- A couple of cooked chicken drumsticks (meat that is closer to the bone is far tastier and there are far more nutrients than just pure muscle meat).
- Half an avocado, seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Around 40g cheese (not Edam. Unless you really enjoy it! Full fat dairy has many important health benefits which for some reason got overlooked with the updated food guidelines. Didn’t they read my blog?
- Meatballs – make these and freeze in single serve packs to have an easy go-to snack. Try my sesame miso meatballs.
- Almost 4 ingredient chocolate chai brownie. No sugar added at all (I promise).
- Raspberry coconut berry bites.
- Lemon coconut lunchbox treat. Again, no sugar was harmed in the making of this deliciousness.
- A scoop of protein powder with minimal added crap (such as Clean Lean Protein, Vital Health, Balance Natural Whey powder) + ½ cup of full fat Greek yogurt topped with berries. There are many better quality protein powders now available on the market. And while protein powders aren’t my go-to for every day eating, those people who are more active and require protein to support their lifestyle, OR for people who for some reason can’t or don’t eat animal source protein, they can be a good addition to the diet. However there are many CRAP products out there, with a lot of additional fillers, preservatives, additives for flavour, thickeners etc. Check the ingredient lists.
- Half an avocado with 1/2 can salmon mixed in, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Steam some greens (broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans) + drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter, add salt and pepper.
- Vegetable chips (bit of prep) but thin sliced beetroot, carrot, parsnip, tossed in bag with 2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil + spice of choice OR salt/pepper – baked in preheated oven of 170 deg (350 deg far) for 10-12 min.
- Tamari almonds from Alison’s Pantry. These are dry roasted, unlike many that you find that are roasted in vegetable oils.
- A handful of Pure Delish cereal (look for 10g/100g or less sugar per 100g) – I love this cereal but to be honest, as a breakfast I’m not going to recommend it as a go-to. I think the brand itself is great, and perfect for tramping/camping as an easy breakfast option. But if you want to ensure you’re not going to go hungry, start your day with a bit more protein. This would fill you up but it is easy to over eat in order to feel satisfied.
- The only plant that would survive a nuclear holocaust chips, like these Ceres Organics ones. Hello. Delicious, but wow – expensive! Obviously super easy to make these yourself (many delicious ways to do this).
- Kelp leaves flash fried in coconut oil with salt (a great source of iodine, a mineral important for our thyroid function which isn’t easily available in the food supply for people who don’t enjoy seafood). This kiwi (and local to me!) product is seriously tasty.
- Dried meat snacks (Biltong, bier sticks) – such as Canterbury I love Epic bars in the States but while some are made with quality NZ meat, they aren’t available here. It’s hard to come by a brand which is minimally processed, so definitely read the ingredients list. Jack Links (despite the great radio adverts which I think are awesome – is NOT a great product. When you try Canterbury V Jack Links, you can taste the difference too – alongside the addition of preservatives other than spices and salt, it is a sweeter product, with 20g of sugar per 100g product, compared to between 1-3g per 100g for Canterbury.
- Crackers free of grains, such as Little Bird or Flackers – or make your own. Super simple and a lot cheaper too. There are a lot of variations to these, here’s mine.
- Apple slices layered with a tablespoon of peanut butter + 1 tsp chia seeds mixed through
- Meedjol date sliced lengthways, with salted pistachio nuts stuffed inside. This is small and not at all lower carb. Delicious though.
- Large tomato, scoop out middle, crack an egg in, grate some parmesan cheese, bake in a 180 degree oven till egg is cooked.
- The Vegery snack wraps: hello delicious! These would be a great lunch on the go or for a snack. Try the apple and coffee one with some peanut butter and grated carrot. Delicious.
- ½ cup cottage cheese + ½ small sliced banana + a handful of walnut halves.
- Rice paper (which has been dunked in warm water to soften, then patted dry, wrapped around sliced avocado, a slice smoke salmon, cucumber, grated carrot, snow peas.
- Lightly toast a handful of sunflower seeds in a pan, then pop some into a pitted avocado half, salt + pepper. Delicious change of texture.
- Cheese + sliced red pepper sliced wrapped in ham that has been sliced thinly off the bone.
- ¼ cup hummus (ideally home-made, like Jamie’s one, he is awesome) + teaspoon of pesto in bottom of jar, carrot/cucumber sticks standing up in them. Try to choose a pesto that has an olive oil base, such as this Genose one – not one that is made on a canola oil base.
- Apple slices cooked in coconut oil and topped with haloumi, a’la Sarah Wilson style.
- A leftover sausage, split into half lengthways, with some cheese grated into it and mustard, heated in microwave.
- A slice of my tahini chia loaf with avocado. Yum.
- 2 squares of 90% Lindt with a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter. Decadent. You’re worth it.
And I’ve plenty of other ideas where these come from. If you would like more individualised help, check out my services page or sign up to my online nutrition coaching system – it’s free for 28 days for you to try!