Well, I am here to tell you, even the most disciplined people can at times give in to temptation, and even the healthiest eaters sometimes need some new ideas to keep things fresh and fun.
The best way to beat temptation in the food world is to be prepared. Now, you guys don’t know me that well yet but as you keep reading you will find that, I love to eat. I love to eat all foods, and what I hate is depriving myself of the things I love. But, life is about balance and finding the balance is the key to your health success, and likely many other successes in your life. So plan ahead, be creative and LOVE what you are eating. And remember at the end of the day, your body is perfected in the kitchen.
Snacks, just like meals should be planned ahead of time in order to avoid the mid-afternoon vending machine run, or hitting up the woman in the office who is known to stash a bag of Snickers in her bottom desk drawer. (I know about this “candy” person in your office because I used to find her in mine when I did not plan my meals and snacks properly!) It is important to realize that most people have temptations and stressors during the day that come at us in different forms. No matter where your office is or what your daily activities include, planning ahead and keeping your food creative and fun can help you steer clear of diet traps.
That being said, it is important to also remember a few things. Snacks should be treated as miniature meals and only to be eaten when you are hungry. If you are snacking because you are bored, take a walk around the office or the house and find an activity that can cure the boredom before reaching into the bag of “insert your favorite boredom food here.”
Also, be mindful of portion sizes. This is where the planning ahead works best. If snacks are readily available to grab and go in proper portion sizes, you take away the option of overdoing it.
It is also important to figure out ahead of time what works best for you: six smaller meals per day, meaning most of your meals are treated almost like snacks; or three meals and one to two snacks in-between per day. Depending on your lifestyle and activity level this will differ. Having a snack "just because" like Mom and Dad always gave you after school is no longer a true reason to snack.
What has worked best for me is finding things that either crunch, tend to take a longer time to eat or are just plain delicious. Some of these gems include:
1.) 100 calorie bags of popcorn. There is a lot of popcorn in these small bags and they take a long time to finish, which helps me trick my brain into thinking I am eating more for less calories! Big Win!
(Remember, choosing the non-buttered versions are always the better option. Be sure you are reading food labels. A quick rule of thumb is if a serving of any food has more than 300 mg sodium in it, it likely does not fit into your heart healthy eating day).
2.) Make your own trail mix. Sometimes having a combination of flavors attributes to taste bud happiness. Mixing a quarter serving of high fiber cereal, a few nuts (unsalted almonds, walnuts, peanuts) and a few yogurt-covered raisins gives you the mix of sweet, salty and fiber you need to get past that mid-day slump.
3.) Banana and peanut butter. This has always been a go-to for me and now with my discovery of PB2 it has become a #1 all over again. PB2 is ground peanuts that you mix with water to create peanut butter. It is only 45 calories per serving and tastes just like peanut butter. Now, if you have the self-control to eat only one true serving of peanut butter that is still a great option, but PB2 offers a lower calorie alternative. When I pair the serving of PB2 with half of a banana and a rice cake, I can't decide if it is a snack or a dessert! It may be both ;)
4.) Veggies and Tzatziki sauce. This is another delicious treat. Be mindful of portion sizes here (which is another reason why pre –packaging your snacks works. Tupperware now come in such cute little containers you can purposefully only pack the appropriate amounts) and bring your cut up carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, sugar snap peas, green beans…you name it! All so great with the creamy, savory Greek dip.
5.) Apples and cheese. Add a lower calorie twist by pairing it with a Laughing Cow or mini BabyBel cheese.
6.) Chobani. Chobani’s latest and greatest creations include their mini “bite” yogurts or their “flips” products. They are some of the best combinations of flavors I have ever tasted. I am going to leave it at that and let you just trust me on this one.
7.) Yogurt. Continuing with the yogurt theme, a non flip or bite Greek yogurt can also fill a great void when it comes to snacking.
8.) Cottage cheese. A serving of cottage cheese with a handful of your favorite fruits, melon, grapes, banana, apple or whatever you like is also a great filling afternoon snack.
As you are reading this I am sure you have thought of a few items that would fit best into your own day. Manipulate these ideas and make them work for you. Put some time and thought into your snacks, pack them in advance so you never have to think in the morning before leaving, or separate them into portions immediately after buying so you never have to see the bags as a whole tempting you in the cabinet. The key to success is happiness. If you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself you will likely stay on the right track.
And like I always say, don’t forget your water intake.
Jenna A. Stock, RD