I’m Baaaack….. And It’s Snack Time

1 Aug

I’m sorry about the loooong hiatus, but the last few weeks have been filled with packing, moving, unpacking, and studying, studying, studying. I’m excited to get back to regular posting! I have a lot of ideas in the works 🙂 So that glorious day, July 30th, that I mentioned in this post has come and gone and it’s time to tell you why it might just be the best day of my life thus far. A little more than a year ago, I was about to start my senior year as a Business major. I had known for awhile that a business degree just didn’t feel right for me. I didn’t enjoy my classes and I had no clue what I would do with the degree upon graduation. I explored many possible career paths and none of them gave me much fulfillment. So last summer I finally worked up the courage to change my major to Nutrition. I met with Jennifer (check out her blog!), who I now consider a very valuable mentor, and she helped me map out the speedy (aka cheapest) route to a Nutrition degree. The road ahead of me was daunting. I had to jump right in to a 4 week Chemistry II summer class (it had been almost two years since I took Chem I) and my first full semester was packed with 18 credit hours including Medical Terminology, Organic Chemistry, and Human Physiology. After many hours studying, a lot of string-pulling, piles of administrative paperwork, a few tears (who am I kidding- A LOT of tears), I am all caught up and ready to begin my senior year. As of July 30th (the end of my summer semester), no classes will be taken out of order and no classes will be taken online or from another college. This fall I will be a normal Nutrition and Dietetics student with a normal schedule.

I. CAN’T. WAIT.

Moral of the story: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Never settle. If you want something bad enough, anything is possible. The most challenging path is usually the one that leads you to the greatest happiness. Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

Now, about those snacks…

I love snacks. As you know by now, I am not a 3-squares-a-day kind of girl. I prefer several mini-meals spaced throughout the day so I never feel overly stuffed and I always have plenty of energy. Choosing a snack can be kind of tricky (a tempting time to reach for the chip bag), so here are my snack guidelines…

1) Plan Ahead

Having a food game plan is the key to staying on track with your healthy eating habits. This is especially important between meals. I’m sure you can all relate to this scenario: you’re out running afternoon errands or stuck at work and hunger strikes. You probably either suffer through the afternoon until you get home and devour the entire bag of Ruffles while making dinner, or you might reach for the nearest snack- the candy dish, the vending machine, or the drive-thru. With a little planning, you can easily navigate afternoon hunger without sabotaging your food day. If I leave the house for more than a couple hours I always pack a snack, something healthful and portable. When I had a 9-5 desk job, I always kept a drawer stocked with a few snacks or packed a snack so I could make it from lunch to dinner without wanting to take a nap under my desk or pay a visit to the vending machine. If you have something healthy within arms reach, the vending machine or the drive-thru won’t even cross your mind.

2) Eat For Energy

When choosing a snack, I like to have the mindset of “food as fuel”. This automatically excludes potato chips and candy bars from my snack choices because they are not good quality fuel for my body. The point of a between-meal snack is to keep your blood sugar from plummeting (low blood sugar = low energy) and to prevent that afternoon sluggish feeling. This guideline is very important if your afternoon snack is going to fuel an after-work workout. I think the best energizing snack combo is a mix of carbs, fiber, and protein.

3) Portion Control

My breakfast, lunch and dinner meals are usually larger than my snacks, so I have to make sure I don’t overdue it. Just as not eating enough zaps your energy, eating too much will zap your energy too. The point is to eat just enough to feel energized and satisfied.

4) Check in With Yourself

Make a habit of checking in with yourself before every meal. I mentioned in this post that I usually eat about 5-6 meals a day, but I always check in with myself before I eat. I never go full steam ahead through my day eating 6 meals like clockwork. The body is a funny thing- on some days you might feel like eating everything in sight and on others you might not have an appetite at all. If snack time rolls around and you aren’t hungry, there is no need to take in extra calories just because you are “scheduled” to do so. Even if I took the time to pack a snack, I never force myself to eat. The only exception may be if you have a workout planned. If I know I’ll be running or hitting the gym later in the day I try to eat at least a little something to give me exercise energy. Every person is different, every day is different, and there is no “one-diet-fits-all”, so learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs!

5) Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth Without Wrecking Your Food Day

Mid-afternoon is a common time for your sweet tooth to strike. When your blood sugar dips between meals, your body craves a simple sugar pick-me-up. Instead of ignoring my sweet cravings (deprivation usually leads to binging and overindulging later), I satisfy it with a healthy twist. I’ll sprinkle a tablespoon of chocolate chips in my yogurt or air-popped popcorn or have a small dish of a sweet granola cereal with some almond milk. Sometimes I can satisfy my sweet tooth simply by adding some fruit to my snack. The key is to start with a healthy base (yogurt, plain popcorn) and add a tiny bit of sweet to satisfy you.

What I snack on:

This is my go-to snack. An Ezekiel Tortilla smeared with about 1 1/2 T of nut butter, half a banana, and a dash of cinnamon. This snack has the perfect amount of protein, carbs, and fiber to keep you full and it’s very portable. I slice it in half and stick it in a Tupperware or roll it up in foil.

Yogurt, especially greek yogurt, with fruit, unsweetened fiber cereal or Kashi cereal, and nuts is such a healthy snack! It’s a great snack for those trying to lose weight. Plain fat-free greek yogurt is low cal (120 for 1 cup) and high protein (20 grams for 1 cup!). The cereal and fruit adds fiber and a small sprinkle of nuts adds a good amount of healthy fat. If you are trying to lose weight, steer clear of flavored yogurt which has a lot of added sugar. I buy plain and sweeten it myself with a dash of stevia.

This snack comes in handy when I have a sweet tooth to satisfy. I microwave 1-2 T of nut butter with a few teaspoonfuls of chocolate chips. I pair it with apple slices for a “healthy twist”.

On those days when I check in with myself and find that I’m just not that hungry, I’ll have something like this: a mug of tea and an apple.

Other great snack ideas include air-popped popcorn, a piece of fruit paired with a handful of unsalted nuts, and fresh veggie slices with hummus or nut butter for dipping.

Everything You Need to Know about Bars

I’ve received a few questions about bars, so let’s talk bars since they are a popular snack food. I am not a big fan of bars- they are usually high in sugar, fat, calories and have ingredient lists a mile long. Since most bars are very calorie dense, you end up eating close to 300 calories in a small serving in a short amount of time. Why don’t you feel satisfied? We eat with our eyes first and we are usually more satisfied by volume than by the amount of calories in a meal. A bar is small in volume, but large in calories. BUT bars are convenient, portable and handy in situations where you need to get rid of your hunger fast and continue on with your day. There’s a new bar in the snack aisle every time I grocery shop. How the heck do you choose? If a snack situation calls for a bar, here is how I choose…

1) Check the ingredients list

This is usually the deal-breaker for me. If the ingredients list is a mile long and full of words I can’t pronounce, it doesn’t make it into my life. The less ingredients the better, and you better be able to pronounce all of them. If you see the words “high-fructose corn syrup”, put the bar down!!

2) Check the calories

Some bars have as many as 500 calories in them. That’s not a snack, that’s a meal replacement bar. I try to stay under 250 calories when I choose a bar. Somewhere around 200 calories is ideal.

3) Check the fat

The base of many bars is nuts so the fat content is usually pretty high, but it’s healthy fat that will stick with you until your next meal. Watch out for added fats such as oils. The saturated fat content should be very low, if any at all, and the trans fat should ALWAYS be zero.

4) Check the sugar

This is a tricky one. Most bars are very high in sugar, and if they aren’t then they are probably full of poison artificial sweetener. This is where you need to look at both the sugar content and the ingredient list. Bars made with whole foods contain sugar from dried fruits like dates and raisins. Some bars will have added sugar, so look for these words: agave, honey, evaporated cane juice, sucrose, dextrose, etc. (rule of thumb: if it ends in -ose, it’s probably an added sugar). This is a hard number to keep low without venturing in to artificial sweetener territory, so I try to stay under 15 grams ( frame of reference: a Snicker’s bar has 29 grams). For more info on sugar check out this post: White Poison

5) Check the fiber

Fiber keeps you full and satisfied. Look for bars with at least 3 grams of fiber. I focus more on fat, sugar, and fiber content instead of protein because high-protein bars are typically very processed and have tons of unidentifiable ingredients.

A Few Kayli-Approved Bars

Larabar

Although Larabars are pretty high in sugar and fat, the ingredient list has me swooning. Most flavors have well under ten ingredients and they are all totally recognizable. The fat is from nuts and the sugar is from fruit. If I’m going to eat a bar, these are my first choice because they are made of basic, whole foods and they always sustain me between meals. To cut fat and sugar, try eating just half of the bar. These bars are so nutrient dense that usually half holds me over. If you can find the mini bars, those are perfect (about 100 cals, 4-6 g fat, 8-11 g sugar)

Flavor: Cashew Cookie    Cals: 230    Fat: 13g    Fiber: 4g    Sugar: 18g    Protein: 6g

Ingredients: cashews, dates

Kind Bars

These bars also have a very small ingredient list. Once again, the fat and sugar content looks a little high, but it mostly comes from nuts and fruit.

Flavor: Fruit & Nut Delight   Cals: 180   Fat: 11g   Fiber: 4g   Sugar: 12g   Protein: 5g

Clif Bars

I save these babies for when I’m really hungry because they’re pretty hefty. JWD swears by these. Because he is a guy and he is very active, he can handle the higher carbs and sugar (unfair, isn’t it girls?). That said, they are very tasty and I never deny a Clif Bar craving. The ingredient list is a bit long, but everything is recognizable and 70% organic. Don’t have time for a sit-down lunch? Pair a Clif bar with a bag of fresh veggies for a balanced, filling meal.

Flavor: Carrot Cake   Cals:240   Fat: 4g   Fiber: 4g   Sugar: 21g   Protein: 10g

Luna Bars

Luna Bars are made by the Clif Bar company and are a lower calorie bar marketed to women. Again, the ingredient list is a bit long but identifiable. A typical bar is less than 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein. I love Chai Tea, Lemon Zest, and White Chocolate Macadamia.

Kashi TLC Bars

These bars are a good choice for people trying to lose weight and for kids. They do have added sugar and a so-so ingredient list, but the nutritional profile is great. A typical bar is under 150 calories, 5 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.

Bottom Line: If at all possible, choose a whole food snack over a bar. But if you must choose a bar, read the label!! And plan around your bar. High in sugar? Consider skipping after-dinner dessert. High in fat? Keep your fat intake in check for the rest of the day.

Something cool to check out: You Bar allows you to make customized bars! A little pricey, but how cool is that??

Whew… feels good to be back to blogging! I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming about the future of the blog and I have some good ideas brewing. I want it to be as informative and applicable to YOU as possible, so feel free to email me questions or topics you’d like me to write about kayli923@gmail.com

Have a wonderful Sunday night and take some time to plan out your snacks for the week!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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9 Responses to “I’m Baaaack….. And It’s Snack Time”

  1. Cara August 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    Yay! Glad you’re back and super glad you’re moved and have some free time. (Although I do miss my table. haha). And I will mention the mini Clif bars because like you said the full size ones are more like a meal. The mini’s are only 100 calories and still very filling. I’ll have to look for some of the others. Since I go to the gym right after work I have to eat something before. I also try to keep hummus and veggies in the fridge at work. Thanks!

    • kayli (Running On Sunshine) August 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

      Yeah, really sorry I had to rob you of your kitchen table 😦

      Thanks for mentioning the mini Clif Bars, I forgot about those! The Luna Bars also come in mini.

      Let’s plan a slumber party

      • Cara August 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

        well… since it was your table I can’t complain much! I’ve had it for two years! I have two more weeks of freedom during which I can slumber and party all you want.

  2. Dolores August 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    I was really happy to hear from you again, and snacks were the perfect topic. I am so glad Lunas are on the list! My 6 yo loves them too, so I have to hide them and stash them at work. She and I are going to try the tortilla snack and the apple and chocolate/nut butter.

    • kayli (Running On Sunshine) August 6, 2010 at 10:13 am #

      it is so flattering to know I have a loyal reader 😀 Lunas are a great choice as well as the tortillas and the apples with chocolate/nut butter. I hope you and your daughter enjoy them!!

  3. Emily August 2, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    I think it’s great that you’ve found a major you love. It’s never too late to change what you want to do if you work hard, and I think you proved exactly that…congrats!

    I also use the mantra “food is fuel.” I know how eating junk food will make me feel, and it’s enough to make me choose more healthful options.

    I try not to choose bars too often, but sometimes they were the best option I had. I prefer Larabars with their short ingredient list.

    Have a great week!

    • kayli (Running On Sunshine) August 6, 2010 at 10:18 am #

      The path to being a RD is a challenging one (as you well know!!), but so rewarding! I can’t wait to cross the finish line and get to the point you are at. Congrats on becoming a RD!!
      Have you tried any of the new Larabar flavors?

  4. Mom August 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Glad you are back to a normal schedule!! 🙂 Good to see you last weekend and as always thanks for the tips.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Workout of the Week: Fueling Your Workout « Running on Sunshine - March 20, 2011

    […] meals: turkey/veggies/hummus in a whole wheat wrap, veggie stir-fry with tofu and brown rice, peanut butter and banana in a whole wheat wrap, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana, or a fruit and yogurt […]

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