Hunger – or boredom, stress and PMS masquerading as hunger – can derail your healthy eating habits. Strategic snacking however, can help you stay on track with your health goals, while fueling your workouts and boosting your energy. Here are some of excellent options for the most common snacking occasions.
To beat your afternoon energy slump:
Steamed edamame is packed with energy boosting B-vitamins while a trail mix that combines nuts, dried fruit and seeds is loaded with healthy fats, fiber and protein. Coffee is another smart snack if you don’t down a sugar-loaded specialty drink that has more calories than a Lean Cuisine. Before you snack, always ask yourself if you’re hungry or just thirsty. A big glass of water might do the trick, though a sparkling probiotic drink like the one from Kavita is a lot more fun.
To fuel your workouts:
Simple, easy to digest carbs give you an energy boost before you workout. Try peanut butter toast or a parfait of yogurt and sliced bananas.
To recover after a workout:
Post-workout protein combined with energy-boosting carbs help grow muscles and recover. Surprisingly chocolate milk is an excellent post-workout drink because it has the right ratio of carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery and rebuilding. Other options: an apple and peanut butter, hummus and pita or yogurt and berries.
To help you sleep:
Bedtime is no time to curb your carbs. They help promote sleep and keep hunger pangs at bay. Opt for a carb-rich snack like cereal or crackers and cheese. Like you need an excuse to eat cheese.
To ward off PMS:
There’s one week a month where I crave any salty-and-sweet snack I can shove into my mouth – hence the salted caramel cupcake pictured above. But too much salt can worsen bloating. A better option might be Greek yogurt or a few slices of cheese. A researcher at UMass Amherst discovered that a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D may decrease risk of PMS.
To balance out a big meal:
A snack plate for dinner – always a winner. Sometimes I just like to snack for dinner, but instead of sitting on the couch with a bag of chips, I try to put together the greatest hits of my favorite snacks: hummus, peppers, cheese, prosciutto and cucumbers. I don’t know. It makes me feel European, but maybe it’s the wine. (Not pictured.)
How about you? What are your favorite options for strategic snacking?