Fuel Strong: Smart Snacking

In an ideal world, we would all be able to eat fresh, homemade meals each days at exactly the right times — a hearty protein-filled breakfast shortly after getting out of bed, a veggie-packed lunch with enough protein and healthy fats to fuel the afternoon, and a light, clean nutritious dinner several hours before bed to allow enough time for digestion. But how often does life work out that way?

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Sometimes we have busy schedules, early workouts, late workouts, unexpected meetings, late dinner plans — all kinds of this that get in the way of an “ideal” routine. These are all of things that can make our lives interesting and wonderful, but can also make negotiating a healthy existence tricky. If you’re like me, constantly on the move in a big city without the time or inclination to cook, you have to figure out a new ideal. That’s why, in addition to awesome recipes, we at Size Strong want to provide you with tips for those times when you can’t provide yourself with an ideal meal. Today, the focus is on snacks.

Surely you’ve heard that it’s a good idea to always have some kind of snack on you. Nothing derails a day of healthy eating more quickly than finding yourself famished with no healthy options around. If you can’t reach into your purse or gym bag for something quickly satiating, you can easily find yourself eating something you didn’t intend to eat, and probably also more than you intended to eat. Hunger has a way of clouding — or obliterating — our good judgment.

Here are some Size Strong tips for smart snacking:

1. Know yourself. If you do a quick Google search for healthy snacks, you’ll come back with hundreds of options and suggestions. Some of them will sound delicious to you, some you won’t even consider — but you’re the one who knows what you’ll actually prepare and eat. If you pack a mini-packet of almond butter and an apple, will you eat that? Will you get up in the morning and cut apple slices? Be practical — your ideal snack is something that you will enjoy eating and that fits into your lifestyle. It’s not necessarily going to be what is best for someone else, or what some magazine tells you is right.

2. Educate yourself. Take some time to really think about your schedule, your habits, your body. When are you most likely to need that snack? Is it a mid-morning craving because you skipped breakfast? Do you find yourself working (or working out) through lunch and then in need of an afternoon snack? Do you run straight from the office to the gym with dinner not in sight for hours, and thus need something to tide you over pre-workout? Notice when you’re getting hungry so that you can prepare accordingly.

3. Arm yourself (with snacks)! If cutting up fruit or carrot sticks is not for you, be happy in the knowledge that there is a plethora of healthy snacks out there meant for people like you (and me) who just want to grab and GO. Spend some time in the snack aisle at Whole Foods or your local health food store. Try different things. Read up on products. Find your favorite, and always have them on hand. My personal go-tos? Kombucha (I prefer the GT Multigreen and Gingerade), Go Raw chips (the spirulina taste like banana chips!) and KIND bars (the dark chocolate variations only contain 5g of sugar and are a delicious treat in a pinch — especially the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond for me).

Remember, of course, that snacks are just that — snacks. You shouldn’t be wolfing down 4 Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond KIND bars a day, since they are more or less a healthier candy bar. Nor should you let these snacks replace wholesome meals — which will be the topic of a future post. Happy snacking!

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