Regardless of how much you love thinking about food and trying different ideas, sometimes you just need some inspiration, especially when you’re up against it with the usual convenience carbohydrate-based foods that adorn our supermarket aisles – readily available and at your disposal. This is true of both the recently converted person and the seasoned LCHF’er* (that sounds a bit religious, really, but to be fair, nutrition is a religion for a lot of people!)
We’ve got to be realistic – a good diet (and decent snacks) don’t happen by accident. These types of ideas take some preparation and planning. However I encourage you to do it as you are totally worth it! You know how bad you can feel when you eat something you don’t want to, but it was the only choice. Like that double-sized Kit Kat at the petrol station because you were starving and this was the first thing you could see and, hey, cheaper than the single sized one.
I’m not talking ‘bad’ as in feeling guilty – let’s try to remove any emotional attachment to food. I mean, I love talking, preparing and eating delicious food – it brings me joy! But I have long realised that any negative emotion (such as guilt and shame) that is attached to food choices does not serve anyone. It creates such negative energy and can perpetuate behaviours that we are trying to avoid, such as:
- eating quickly without really chewing (so no one notices!),
- eating more than we need (as we don’t appreciate what we are eating, our appetite hormones and taste buds don’t register that food has been consumed),
- eating it to ‘get rid of it’, along with declarations of ‘that’s the last time I’m going to eat X so I’m going to make the most of it.’ (Okay – so it’s unlikely to be the last time that you eat whatever food X is, and unless you have an allergic reaction that makes it dangerous to eat (ie gluten for a person with coealics) or extremely uncomfortable, then there should be no reason to avoid it forever.)
I’m talking chocolate, biscuits, chips, etc – high sugar, high fat high caloric and low nutrient foods. Sure, these types of foods aren’t ideal to consume on an everyday basis for most people, however no one food ruined your diet and subsequent health goals. It’s more unhelpful behaviours and habits that are driven by our physiological response to these foods. These ultra processed foods (combination of sugar, starch, vegetable oils) leave little work for our body to do when we eat them, meaning the starch and sugar hit our blood stream quickly. This increase in blood sugar will drive an insulin response that clears the blood of nutrients (sugar and fat), and takes it to where it’s required, or to store it for later use. The body prefers to keep things relatively stable, so if there is an excess of sugar in your bloodstream, it is going to be on it to clear it out. If you’re very active and eating for fuel, it will go to the working muscles. If you’re behind a desk on a standard work day, then it’s more likely to be the latter. That can happen at such a rapid rate that your sugar level dips below normal (an over-correction), sending stress signals to your brain to resolve the issue and bring your blood sugar levels back up to within normal range. Cue: hunger, potential light-headedness, loss of concentration and cravings for sugary or starchy foods – the foods your body knows will solve the immediate ‘crisis’.
So, what to do?
First: do you need to snack? If you eat three decent meals a day, you probably don’t and by decent, I mean meals that include a good hit of protein, some fat for satiety, may include some carbs (of good quality, such as kumara, potato, some fruit, dairy for the dairy tolerant) and an abundance of non-starchy vegetables. How much? Check out the graphic below. If you hit this and you don’t have high energy needs BUT still snack, think about whether it is out of habit or hunger? Habit can drive our appetite to eat almost as much as a physiological need for nutrients.
And if you do need a snack?
These snack options listed combine any carbs with fat and/or protein to slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream and will help keep you fuller for longer. Perfect. These are from a FB post I put up last week, and a few of my own thrown in there too. Some are grab and go, some require a little bit of preparation to be ‘grab and go’, and some require a bit more time in the kitchen, but it will be worth it when you need something to tie you over.
- Peanut butter slugs from Pics
- ½ cup coconut yogurt with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs
- This super easy coconut- peanut butter fudge
- Nuts – snap lock bags of these in ¼ cup amounts to grab – keep in freezer
- Coconut flakes mixed with walnuts – snap lock bags of this mix ( ¼ c amounts) to grab – keep in freezer
- 100% meat sausages, such as L’Authentique – cook in advance and grab one as a snack
- Cheese – chop 30g amounts of this and pop in a snap lock bag to grab
- ½ cup cottage cheese with couple of teaspoons of Sabato or Genoese pesto added
- Cucumber, celery, courgette slices – cut these and pop in a snaplock bag to grab to go along with any of the other ideas here
- Pate made with no added preservatives – L’Authinque again – (or make yourself such as this recipe here)
- ½ cup plain or Greek yoghurt with sliced almonds or other nuts
- Cottage cheese mug muffin
- Super discs of delciousness
- Homemade muesli (can be grain free, ideally minimal dried fruit) with unsweetened yoghurt and frozen blueberries.
- Low carb muffins (such as these sushi muffins) baked and kept in the freezer for when needed.
- Salted caramel cookie dough fat bombs
- Cook chicken or drumsticks in advance, debone (if full chicken) and keep in fridge
- Triangle of cheese between two slices of salami (a salami sandwich!)
- Mediterranean chicken meatloaf – slice, freeze and bring out when needed
- Delish gourmet soup pouches or Tasy Pot soups
- Psyllium husk loaf toasted with butter
- Canned sardines/salmon/tuna in olive oil – drain, flake, add a squeeze of lemon – or just have as is.
- Avocado sprinkled with salt and a grind of pepper, wrapped in nori sheet
- Good-quality cured meat (such as Canterbury Biltong)
- Meatballs/rissoles (home made) – freeze in snaplock bags in individual portions and grab
- Eggs – take 2 in a jar to work with a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil added and scramble in microwave
- Three ingredient Lemon fudge
- White fish with drizzle of olive oil and lemon oil/lemon zest: bake for around 10 mins on 200 or pan-fry
- Guacamole with carrot sticks or activated seed crackers
- Vanilla Bliss or Cacao Crunch Amazeballs – genuine no sugar added
- Pork crackling – such as Libby’s or Sniks (white bag, not blue!)
- Quiche – either crustless or made with an almond flour base
- Carrot zucchini slice
- Mashed cheesy cauliflower (pre made, reheat) – such as this: if dairy free, use coconut cream instead of the sour cream, and this cashew cheese instead of the cheese.
- Cauli broccoli and/or zucchini fritters – just process or grate the vegetables, add an egg, a tablespoon of almond meal, ½ tsp baking powder, your favourite spice or herb and salt! Panfry in coconut or olive oil
- Bacon – slow bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes on a baking tray
- Grain free crackers with cheese,
- Leftovers from dinner (1/3 – ½ portions)
- Vege sticks ready in the fridge
- Roast kumara in advance, chop into pieces, roast in coconut oil with salt, keep in fridge
- Slice of cheese, spread with peanut butter (I tried this, didn’t really like it, FYI, and I love both cheese and peanut butter).
- 1/2 avocado, seasoned with salt and pepper
- Tablespoon of peanut butter with a tablespoon of coconut butter
- Square of 90% cocoa dark chocolate, spread with peanut butter or almond butter on top
- Square of 90% cocoa dark chocolate with small handful walnuts
- Slice of cheese, spread with marmite and topped with ½ a hardboiled egg (one of Simon Cochrane – elite triathlete – favourites)
- Cabbage leaf or lettuce leaf filled with ¼ avocado, small handful leftover lamb, smear tahini and miso paste
- Nori sheet spread with tahini, miso, some avocado and sauerkraut.
*I use LCHF interchangeably with ‘real food’ or ‘minimally processed’ as the reality is, when you switch out the processed, packaged food in your diet you will be lowering your carbohydrate intake. Anyway.