In high school, test days were the most trying for me. In addition to morning choir practice, clawing out of my crowded locker room, and speeding up and down several flights of stars between classes – I had to deal with last minute cramming, frazzled nerves, stress acne...
AND - the rise of the tummy monster: the noisy, rumbling beast that came alive in the dead quiet of homeroom or second period. At first my stomach would gurgle once or twice – shy almost, like a lady in waiting muffling a burp behind nervous grin and gloved hand. But then 20 minutes into the exam, it would quake with grumbles anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds long. Heads turned in my direction. A few snickered and time and again I kicked myself for skipping breakfast. (Who hasn’t been there?)
Later, as I’d shovel down BBQ potato chips or a chocolate bar from the cafeteria vending machine the furthest thing from my mind was eating a healthy lunch, let alone choosing a healthier snack. I just went for whatever was quick and handy…which, for the most part, meant cheap and greasy.
(Or just a bit weird… Breakfast Club, anyone?)
So glad that those days are over and I know better, right? … Well, getting better, anyway. I’ve learned some snacking tips that are helping me to tame the tummy beast, while increasing intake of valuable nutrients. The key is not only to snack in between meals, but also to be mindful what you’re munching.
Why is snacking good for you?
Eating one or two meals a day is not enough for a healthy diet. For instance, eating a hearty breakfast and then only a sensible dinner hours later can cause the body to think it’s starving. This kicks off the breakdown of proteins instead of fats and sugars, which can eventually cause feelings of dizziness, headaches and nausea.
Instead, it’s better to eat more times daily, with smaller portions. Which is where snacking comes in - as a filler between 3 substantial meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One or two snacks a day, combined with regular exercise helps the body properly consume fuel. That way you’ll burn carbs and fats first, and hold on to more of the protein necessary to build and repair the body.
Game Plan – Where to start?
This article on askmen.com offers a few beginning steps including:
Plan snacks as part of the day’s food plan: i.e. regular times for mid morning and mid afternoon snacks and no extra snacking in between.
Prepare a shopping list that includes healthy snack ideas and stick to it. (Go to produce section… do not stop at brownies.) To help curb impulsive buying, food shop on a full stomach.
Carve out a “snack spot” in your fridge and cabinet. Fill it only with handy, healthy snacks.
Resist the urge - Avoid high sugar, fatty and salty snacks such as candy, chips and soft drinks.
Don’t use food as a reward for good behavior. So, a good workout does not earn you that brownie you resisted earlier this week.
Look at calories but also nutrient content – fiber, vitamins & minerals - when choosing snacks.
So we’ve talked about why snacking’s good for you and some starter steps towards better snacking habits. Next time I’ll share some tasty snack ideas and recipes.
Until then, here’s a quick nod to kale chips, a personal favorite. Enjoy! :)
Baked Kale Chips
* Plus – Excellent source of Vitamin C and calcium
Homemade recipes are quick and less expensive than store-bought.
Bake kale chips by placing 1 large bunch raw kale leaves, stems removed, on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook at 350° until crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.