Everybody loves a snack, but when you're moving towards a whole foods diet, choosing them can seem difficult...or if you're dramatic (like me), initially it may feel like it's devastatingly impossible. I'm going to keep this post short and sweet and stick to two key points.
- For the most part - typical, run of the mill, office favorite and convenient snacks are not healthy. You know this. I don't care if the Pringles are 30% reduced fat, they are not a natural food. Trust nothing that is delicious and disgusting all at once. Eliminating packaged snacks from your life will drastically decrease the amount of sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans-fats, empty calories and other health hazards - all which directly contribute to disease and weight gain. Snacking on packaged foods may in fact be the biggest culprit in weight loss issues.
- You just need to keep yourself stocked. Yes, this means going to the grocery store. Always focus on incorporating protein, healthy fat and your biggest friend, fiber. These will keep you full longer.
Here's a list of some favorites that I offer to clients unsure of what to do when the 3:00 snack attack hits. They all just happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free too.
- Baba ghanoush, a personal favorite. I also just like to say it. Serve with these guys or veggies.
- DIY roasted pumpkin seeds and roasted sunflower seeds.
- A blueberry muffin.
- These cookies. Use coconut oil or grapeseed oil or ghee in place of butter.
- Hard-boiled egg (just in case).
- Roasted chickpeas...the bomb.
- Chia pudding...so hot right now.
- Muesli. Another word I love saying.
- Peanut butter brownie balls Yes please.
- A smoothie. Why not.
- Homemade protein flax bars. These are famously delicious, I'm sorry but it's true.
- Homemade spiced protein bars.
- Check out this post for my favorite on the go/protein bars.
And some other ideas that I'll let you find on your own: Fruit, raw nuts, rice or lentil crackers with tuna, 1/2 avocado with s&p, almond butter (or any nut butter) with celery, apple, or any vehicle of your choice, hummus with anything, popcorn made with coconut oil and nutritional yeast (YUM).
Ginger cookie chews. My new fave. No baking. All cupboard essentials. Raw ingredients. Cuisinart. Fridge. Done.
It's possible I ate 3 last night. That's all I'm gonna say folks.
Guess where I got this recipe? Oh just from the incredible New Year New Rules recipe and protocol packet. Just one amazing treat of many.
- 1/2 C raw almonds
- 1/4 C raw pecans or cashews
- 2 Tbsp of honey or coconut palm sugar
- 1 Tbsp freshly diced ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- pinch salt
- 2 Tbsp almond butter
- 7 pitted dates
- 1/4 C rasins or currants
- Fine coconut to roll in (optional)
Place nuts, coconut sugar or honey, ginger, spices and salt into food processor and process until coarsley chopped. Add dates, raisins and almond butter and process again until it sticks together like dough, don't over-process. Scoop one tablespoon of dough, roll in hand to make balls, flatten into disk and sprinkle with coconut (optional). Pop in the fridge for one hour, voilá.
In honor of this evening's Nutrition Roundtable with Katie Jasper, I thought I'd throw out 5 tips to improve digestion. People seem to like lists. They like short lists. Maybe you do some of these or none of these, but this is a good place to start if your digestion is off and you've had it. Alright, let's get cracking:
Simple right? Apparently not. Sometimes when we sit down to a meal we act like we've just entered the Tour de France. Relax. It's not going anywhere. Why do we this? Maybe because we've gone too long without food...but that's another post entirely. So why does chewing matter? Because digestion begins in the mouth - actually it begins in the brain when you look at the food. Just looking at that Thai curry bowl (you're welcome) makes your brain produce enzymes to prep what's about to come in. The point is to start breaking down food before it hits the stomach. Too many big pieces of food in the stomach = more work for your belly and poor breakdown which leads to gas, bloating, heartburn, belching...and worst of all, can lead to food sensitivities and allergies. So slow your roll. Okay I promise #2 will be shorter...maybe.
2. Address Food Sensitivities
Alright this one is a biggie. I kind of went for it with #2. Sometimes the whole gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose-intolerance thing gets a bad rap. People think it's a trend. I'm going to tell you something - it's not. We're eating a LOT of foods these days we didn't evolve eating. Food sensitivities and intolerances play a massive role in IBS symptoms. I repeat MASSIVE. Most common culprits = gluten, dairy, sugar. Is it fun eliminating food? Not really. Can you do it? Yes. Working with a nutritionist, (ahem), can be a huge help on this one.
3. Increase Good Gut Bacteria
There are good guys and bad guys in the world of the gut. Heard of probiotics? Fermented food? These are things people are now recognizing play a huge role in gut health (which = overall health). Some liken gut flora to a "forgotten organ" due to the extensive role they play. More on that here. Whether it's mild or severe digestive symptoms, when I work with clients, this is the first place I go. Natural ways to get it? Fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, plain & full-fat yogurt, kefir and kimchee. Taking probitoics? All are not created equal, but definitely look for ones that contain the strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
4. Don't Get Seconds
Sorry. This one sucks. Bottom line: the acid and enzymes that break everything down lose their working power when you've stuffed yourself full. Just take a break. Eating smaller meals can make the difference in everything from constipation to bloating.
5. The 'Raw' Movement may Not be For You
Raw diets are rad in that you're pretty much guaranteeing lots of fresh veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts in your diet, which is cool...but if you're the type of person who eats a salad and feels gassy, bloated, and maybe even gets loose stools or constipated, try switching to cooked veggies instead. Soups, light sautees, roasted veggies: these may be easier for you to digest. Some people do great with salads and raw veggies, but remember you and your cubicle partner do not have the same digestive system. So listen to your belly - pay attention to what foods work for your constitution. Just because it's healthy doesn't mean it's ideal for you.