Ideally, we would eliminate snacking all together and eat three solid, nutritious meals a day; however, that’s often not a realistically achievable goal for everyone. If you are going to snack, I recommend you do it “intelligently.” This intelligence starts with understandingwhy you snack during the day. I routinely ask five questions about people’s snack-related relationship:
- Are you snacking out of boredom, frustration or another emotion? In the course of a busy day we can run through the gamut of emotions. It’s all too easy to use food—particularly highly dense, nutrient-poor food—to help inhibit those feelings. This can affect our mood in a negative way as well as contribute to weight gain.
- Are you snacking as part of your routine when you take a break between salon clients? It can be challenging to break associations, but try substituting some movement, a walk outside or even deep breathing.
- Are you really hungry? Or are you thirsty? Sometimes the body confuses the two, so stay hydrated. Lean on water or flavored spritzers rather than sugary drinks.
- If you didn’t have a solid breakfast, are you trying to make it through to dinner? This dietary pattern is a setup for weight gain. A breakfast rich in protein and fiber can allow for better blood sugar control throughout the day.
- Is your body able to run on its own fat stores, or do you frequently feel the need to refuel? One of the benefits of fitness is the ability of your body to burn your stored fat. People who are not in shape often feel the need to refuel.
If you are going to snack, you’ll want to turn to high-fiber, low-saturated fat, unprocessed foods. My easy-to-pack favorites are:
- Fruits—especially apples, pears, peaches and plums. Go for the whole fruit and not the processed juice. This way you’ll get the beneficial fiber and avoid the big hit of fructose.
- Veggie combos with hummus or tzatziki. Those little carrots and sliced cucumbers are a better dipping vehicle than chips.
- A homemade protein shake—it’s easy to bring to work and store in the fridge. Oat milk makes a great base. You can include protein powder (either whey, pea or egg white), a banana, flaxseed, and a few almonds. Feel free to throw in a little collagen powder as well.
- You can’t go wrong eating a homemade vegetable salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing. Spice it up a bit with some sunflower seeds, walnuts or flaxseed.
- Almonds (unsalted, not roasted) and either raisins or dried unsulfured apricots are a tastebud pleaser, but be careful not to overdo the amount as the calories can easily mount up. For another protein pop, you can add a small amount of cheese.
Even incorporating just a few of these foods into your everyday snacking routine can make a big difference in enhancing your mood and energy level so that you can be your best self for you, most importantly, as well as your clients.