Let’s talk snacks!!
Snacks are super important when it comes to adequate and normalized eating. By including snacks throughout your day, you are providing your body with added nutrition, energy and vitamins and minerals to feel your best. For those struggling with disordered eating, including snacks between meals can help you eat enough which is one of the biggest factors to help interrupt loss of control eating (binge eating). Snacks also provide an opportunity to take a break, connect with your body and nourish yourself. It can be viewed as an act of self-care in this busy world. Often, low mood, irritability, loss of concentration and feeling tired are actually hunger signals- including snacks during the day can help to keep your eating episodes to every 2-5 hours which is ideal for most folks.
In summary, snacks help to:
-provide nourishment between meals
-provide an opportunity to increase vitamin and mineral intake
-keep energy levels stable throughout the day
-reduce overeating at the next eating episode by not going into a meal HANGRY
-connect with others, socially
-eat well while on the go or managing many priorities
When it comes to creating a snack, a gentle nutritional 'guideline of thumb' is to combine two foods, ideally two foods from different food groups. (and I say guideline of thumb- because I hate food rules!) Try pairing up a food that contains some carbohydrate (fruits, veggies or grains) with a food that contains some protein and/or fat (dairy & alternatives or meats & alternatives). Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the THREE (and only) macronutrients (meaning we need them in a large amount) that our body uses for energy. We need to eat enough of these nutrients (yes, each of them) on a daily basis. AND despite what you might hear in the world of diet culture- we need CARBOHYDRATES in the largest amount! YES - I said it- and NO, I won't take it back. By including a source of carbohydrate at our snacks, we are helping our bodies to get enough energy. Carbohydrates break down into a molecule called glucose and this is what powers our body- what our body uses for energy- think of gasoline in a car. We certainly need oil, and fluids and tires- but our car won't run without fuel. By adding a source of fat or protein to our carbohydrate, we slow the digestion and this allows us to feel satisfied for longer.
Building a satisfying snack:
-combine a source of carbohydrate with a protein/fat
-combining helps with how this snack is digested and leaves us feeling nourished for longer
-combining two foods makes the snack more intentional- let’s give our food some thought
-different foods give us different nutrients, try for a variety
-explore different taste combos to keep it interesting
The list above shows just a very small amount of snacks! There are so many to choose from and remember, this is just a guide! It’s okay to choose something different or include more fun foods too! You can also add more than two foods if you are feeling hungrier, are preparing to play a sport or activity or if that better meets your INDIVIDUAL needs.
What’s your favourite snack combo?