I am that person that always has some kind of food in her purse. I am sure some people judge me for it but it’s how I survive. I am not a big eater but I can eat a lot. What I mean by this is I choose to not eat much at one time but I eat often. Balancing the many things I do, good, healthy food is a must to maintain my energy and focus. Workouts, work, performance training, and grad school classes keep me busy but I could just opt for convenient foods but instead I choose to eat small amounts but more often because that’s the only way I’ll be able to be the best I can be.
So what is a healthy snack? You want to think of a snack as small meal. The goals for this small meal/snack is that it needs to include at least 3 of the 5 food groups. A lot of people say the difference between a snack and a meal is that a meal has 3 or more food groups and a snack has two or less. But when eating like I do, small amounts but more often, you need a balanced snack that will give you some satiety, helps you stay fuller longer. The trio that gives you satiety is fiber, protein, and healthy fats. So when you have a balanced snack that helps keep you full, you want to include this trio.
Why is eating small amounts, more often a healthy way to go? Well, in doing so you actually get to maximize the amount of nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, you get from your food. Also, you don’t put as much of your food into storage… aka fat. When you eat small amounts more often your body burns a high percentage of the calories you ate before your next meal comes around. This means less extra food goes into storage because there isn’t extra food. On the other hand, when you eat big meal your body can only handle so much at one time and the extra food gets put into storage, which, if you don’t burn it off, turns into fat.
Then there is this beautiful thing called the thermic effect of food. Without going into too much nutritional science, every time you eat a balanced snack, your body’s internal body temperature increase just slightly to help process the food you just ate. This means you will burn more calories for a certain period of time after each meal. So the more often you eat a small meal the more often you burn extra calories!!! Eating and burning calories at the same time – I’d call that a WIN!
Here are some examples of small snacks or meals you should try to include in your day! P.s. see if you can find the “satiety trio” in all of these… 😉
- Whole-grain toast, peanut butter, a banana and an apple.
- Smoothie with Greek yogurt, fruit to your preference, whole oats, flax seed.
- Whole-grain crackers with rolled up turkey, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and an apple.
- Trail mix with dried fruit and a glass of milk on the side.
- A dark leafy green salad with your favorite beans, sunflower seeds, and an olive oil vinaigrette.
Let me know if you try any of these out for your healthy snacking options!
Sarah Elijah Scherer