Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Small Steps to Health: A better afternoon snack

I'm so healthy! Look! Look at meeeee!

Before I get into my snacking habits, let me first report back on how I did on last week's goal of being  a little more active every day. Here's how it all worked out:

  • Monday This was an easy one! It was a national holiday, so we all had the day off and went for a hike and a picnic up in the mountains. The hike was about 3.5 (5.6 km) miles roundtrip, and I clocked just over 10,000 steps on the step counter on my phone, while equals about 5 miles (8 km). I felt like that was pretty good!
  • Tuesday  I can't really remember what I did exactly, but I know we had stuff going on all day long, so I didn't get a chance to really do anything until after the kids were in bed. Fortunately by then the rain had stopped (we had such a wet and rainy May!), so I invited a friend and went for a quick 30-minute bike ride around the neighborhood. 
  • Wednesday Another busy day filled with play dates and shopping and errands. The weather wasn't being too cooperative, so we spent the afternoon inside. I knew I wouldn't get a chance to go out and do anything in the evening, so I turned on some music and had a 20 minute dance party with the kids instead. Lots of fun, and it definitely got my heart rate up! 
  • Thursday and Friday These days both completely got away from me. We were busy with appointments and this and that, and, to be honest, I think I was just feeling a bit discouraged by this whole "healthier me" thing that I'm trying to do. To do it right and get these new habits in place can be a little all-consuming, and frankly, my interests lie elsewhere (like in curling up with a book and eating cookies). But I'm determined to get there, and I will. Sometimes just feel like they're "two steps forwards and one step back" kind of days. 
  • Saturday The rain stopped and the sun came out at last, so we spent the whole entire day working in the yard. I mowed the lawn in the backyard and spent hours and hours pulling weeds, so by the time we stopped for dinner I was almost too tired to lift my fork (almost!). 
  • Sunday After we get home from church, our Sundays are always about relaxing and spending time together as a family - usually with some baking thrown in. All I did was take a 10 minute walk to the mailbox and back with Gwen, but it was still 10 minutes more than I might have done otherwise.
Baby steps, people! 

This week I'm trying to improve another habit of mine: the afternoon snack. Every afternoon, more or less without fail, I get absolutely starving hungry around 3-3:30 PM. Which isn't too surprising, because the kids and I usually eat lunch around noon, so being hungry three hours later is pretty reasonable. What isn't reasonable is that it somehow always seems to take me by surprise, so I never have anything planned to eat. Sometimes I do a good job and eat a handful of almonds, and sometimes I start opening cupboards and come out with a cookie or a fistful of chips. Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you want a cookie, then have a cookie, but maybe don't have a cookie every day? There are other snack options that will do a better job of fueling me with the energy that I need for the rest of the day, and I think I should try to eat some of those instead. And if I want a cookie one day, I'll eat one and move on with life. 

So, what is a better/healthier snack? A quick browse around the internet will show you that there are quite literally thousands of different sources* trying to tell you what a healthy snack might look like, and you honestly just have to try to find out what rings true for you. After a little bit of research, this is what I'm going for:
  • High in nutrients (proteins, vitamins and minerals)
  • Low in fat, sugar and sodium
  • Up to about 200 calories (much more than that and you may as well call it lunch)
  • Rich in fiber and protein (both help you to feel full, which is what I'd really like for a snack
  • I like food that is real food, so nothing too processed or pre-packaged, please. 
  • It has to be tasty and satisfying! It can be as nutrient-dense as it likes, but if it tastes like cardboard, I'm not eating it. 
So, off I go to the world of healthy snacking! Will you share your favorite healthy snacks and resources with me? 


*A few resources if you'd like to join me in being a better snacker. This article from WebMD gives a good outline of what you should be looking for in a healthy snack, but you'd have to be a complete doofus to need their list of "Not-so Healthy Snacks" to help you figure out that chocolate doughnuts might not be your healthiest choice. I like this article from Real Simple too. It supports what WebMD is saying, but then adds quite a lot of other good information too. And I like this list of 24 Nutritious (and Tasty) Snacks also from Real Simple (although I'm not going to be steaming myself an artichoke as a snack any time soon. Sorry, Real Simple!). The US National Library of Medicine offers this article that has some good ideas (put it in a container to help you control portion size!) and some advice that you'd think most of us would be able to come up with on our own (replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl!). Still, sometimes it's helpful to read even the most obvious of statements just to help solidify them in your mind, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. I'm always 'rediscovering' how delicious fresh fruit is when you're really hungry. I enjoy it as dessert, but really love it as an afternoon snack.

    Yogurt is also easy. The healthiest option is to get unsweetened (which is really tart), I don't usually eat it without fruit mixed in.

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