How to Build a Hunger-Crushing Snack + 30 Easy Ideas
It's 3 pm and your energy is running low. You need a little somethin' to keep yourself from totally nodding off, so you grab a bag of chips. They don't totally satisfy, but they taste good and you're too busy to eat anything else.
Fast-forward a few hours and you're arriving home feeling HANGRY to say the least. Just about anything sounds good and you know you've gotta eat something before you start the dinner prep. A few handfuls of cereal, a half a box of crackers, an apple and some string cheese later, and you're feeling less than amazing (hello, food guilt!) and your appetite for dinner is totally shot.
If this scene sounds familiar, this post is for you.
Snacks don't have to leave you feeling sluggish. In fact, the right snack should leave you feeling full, satisfied and totally in control around food. Read on to learn why I recommend snacking on the regular, and my easy formula for building balanced, hunger-crushing snacks every time. Bonus: scroll to the end of this post for 30 easy ideas.
To snack or not to snack
In the free-for-all world of Google nutrition, there seems to be some debate about whether or not snacking is a healthy habit.
My take? It depends!
Like with almost everything in nutrition, whether you include snacks or not depends on you and your unique body. The un-sexy truth is that we will all respond differently to different styles of eating.
But in general, I consider snacking a healthful habit because:
Snacks help add nutrients and fibre to your day
Snacks help stabilize blood sugars throughout the day
Smaller meals with snacks may be better tolerated for those with sensitive digestive systems when compared to large meals
Well-balanced snacks prevent hanger and help you feel in control around food
Let's be real—snacks are life!
The Hunger-Crushing Formula
Ok, so now that you know I'm a snack super-fan, let's talk The Formula!
To build a filling, nutritious snack, include at least two of the following:
Carbs. Carbs are for fuel. That's why when you're low on energy, this is often what you'll crave. Fibre-filled carbohydrates are best, but they can truly all fit.
Protein. Protein is for staying power. Not only is this macronutrient the building block of our muscles and other lean tissue, it also boosts satiety and helps regulate appetite.
Fat. Fat is for satisfaction. It's true that fats are calorie-dense and a little goes a long way, but they're still important for staying full and satisfied.
Aim to combine foods from at least two different categories at snack time. If you can fit all three, even better! Here's an easy guide to help.
Should I keep my snacks low calorie?
You may be thinking, "Mir, this sounds great but that sounds like a calorie-loaded combo."
My response? Calories are not king.
I mean, it's true that in order to maintain our weight we need to balance the amount of calories we consume (through food and beverages) with the amount of calories we expend (through daily living and exercise). But a low calorie snack isn't always superior.
If you're snacking out of boredom, sure, a simple snack of veggies or fruit may work for you. I'll never discourage adding more produce into your day!
But if you're snacking out of true hunger, a low calorie snack simply means it will provide low energy and little satisfaction.
I challenge you to shift your thinking. Instead of viewing snacks as an opportunity to keep your calories as low as possible, think of them as an opportunity to nourish.
A well-balanced snack helps provide your body with nutrients to help you feel your best. And a well-balanced day of eating prevents those 'binge-like', out-of-control feelings that can happen when we chronically under-fuel. Full, balanced snacks regulate appetite and keep us in control.
30 Healthy Snack Ideas
Here are some simple, filling snack combinations I love!
Sliced apple and cheddar cheese
Soy milk latte and fruit of choice
Mixed nuts and chocolate
Frozen waffle with nut butter and berries
High fibre crackers and hummus
Carrot sticks and guacamole
Graham crackers and peanut butter (add some chocolate chips for good measure, trust me!)
Oatmeal with fruit and almond butter
Dried apricots and pecans
Plain greek yogurt with sliced grapes and honey
Homemade muffin and peanut butter
Activia yogurt with mixed nuts
Raspberries and chocolate chips
Bell peppers and hummus
Rice cakes with guacamole and hemp seeds
Homemade trail mix with popcorn, nuts and dried cranberries
Turkey and cheese roll-ups
Whole wheat english muffin, avocado and hard boiled egg
Celery sticks and peanut butter
Turkey jerky and baby carrots
Edamame with sliced cucumbers
Mixed nuts and chocolate
Chia pudding with berries
Homemade smoothie with greek yogurt, fruit and flaxseed
Snap peas and hummus
Whole milk latte and popcorn
Pretzels and peanut butter
Snack bar such as KIND Bars, GoMacro or RXBAR
Greek yogurt with peanut butter and berries
Whole wheat bagel with hummus and tomato
Don't forget, all foods can fit. These nutritious snacks are awesome choices most of the time, but sometimes you're just going to want a cookie... and that's totally OK!
If you have any questions about this blog post or want to learn how to make your favourite foods fit without dieting, connect with me on Instagram.