By Rebecca Taras and Jessica Marie, Refinery29
.While we don't agree with the theory that snacking in between meals is necessarily a bad idea, we do think that there is a right and wrong way to consume those extra calories. In a time of portion distortion and high stress, a snack can easily be a slippery slope. With that in mind, we asked board-certified health and nutrition coach Jessica Marie to lend us her expertise on how to snack in any circumstance. So, get your hand out of the chip bag and check out this expert's healthy food for thought.
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When we're stressed, we tend to throw caution to the wind and reach for carb- and sugar-loaded foods - think doughnut holes, gummy bears, and cupcakes. These tasty treats offer an instant dose of the mood-elevating, happy hormone, serotonin, says Marie. We get a temporary feeling of calm when a real crash is waiting just around the corner. If you're under a ton of stress or anticipate a stressful time coming, clear your cabinets of Ho Hos and put these treats in place. You can even store these in your desk drawer for those emergency moments.
Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios: Just a handful (about a ¼ cup) of these nuts pack enough B-vitamins and vitamin E to keep immunity and energy levels where you need them.
Bananas: Not only do they travel well, you can get these bad boys anywhere (like Starbucks). They're sweet, delish, and loaded with fatigue fighting, energy-boosting magnesium and potassium!
Dark Chocolate: The darker the chocolate bar, the stronger the potency. Dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids (very relaxing) and phenethylamine, which is a fantastic mood booster. Shoot for at least 70% cacao and practice moderation - all you need is a couple squares.
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Traveling is a pain. The toughest part of snacking smart when you travel is keeping things fresh and nutrient-dense. But, with a little bit of mindfulness, you can make smart choices when your travels get crazy.
KIND Bars: They're loaded with superfoods, wholesome grains, satisfying nuts, and dried fruits, and are naturally low in sugar.
Wild Garden Hummus: Single-serving snacks are amazing when it comes to travel. Hummus offers up a creamy dose of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates - just about everything you need to feel satisfied. Enjoy with a serving of whole grain crackers or veggies.
.Quick Energy Boost/Midday Slump
If you're struggling to keep your eyes open midday (guilty as charged!), relying on false energy (ahem, caffeine) will only get you so far, warns Marie. Instead of reaching for another cup of Joe to keep you going, eat for energy instead. What we choose as fuel and energy directly impacts our performance!
Go Raw Energy Bar: This bar is made with Spirulina, a blue-green algae from the ocean. This superfood pulls sugar from cells, thus boosting energy levels. Fun fact: It's also the most complete protein on earth.
Grapefruit and Oranges: Not only is their scent invigorating, but tangy citrus fruits pack a ton of powerful vitamin C, which has immune-boosting qualities that enhance energy and alertness. Get peeling!
Hard-Boiled Egg: This is probably not the first snack you'd reach for an energy boost, but they're sure to please. Another protein-packed food, eggs contain energy-enhancing minerals like zinc, phosphorous, and chromium.
Dieting today is more about sustainable lifestyle changes, advises Marie. Eating foods closest to their natural state is what infuses the body with vitamins and minerals! Bulking foods that are naturally nutrient-dense and calorically low fill the belly up faster than processed foods do.
Kale Chips: Just about the most unassuming, delicious snack there is, Kale chips are guilt-free, simple to make, and offer a ton of nutrition.
Avocado: There's nothing better than a creamy, savory snack. Although avocados are higher in calories and healthy fats than other fruits, you'll feel more satiated after eating even a small amount, thus helping you stick to that diet plan! For an easy treat, cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, fill with two heaping tablespoons of organic Greek yogurt, and sprinkle with pink sea salt. This snack is full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats!
Chocolate Chia Pudding: Chia seeds are crammed with fiber, protein and omega-3s, and help regulate blood sugar. When added to water, chia seeds plump up just perfect for a plant-based pudding base.
.Pre- and Post-Workout
If you want to have a killer workout and see results, you need to make sure you're fueling before and after your exercise routine, says Marie. First off, you need adequate energy to get through a workout, and secondly, you need to make sure to replace glycogen stores to repair muscles and improve performance for your next sweat sesh. Smoothies: This nutritional powerhouse is an easy way to get in a pre- and post-workout snack. Smoothies are easy, nutritious, and undeniably delicious. Try this yummy recipe: eight oz almond/rice milk, ½ banana, three dates, one tbsp chia seeds, ½ cup frozen/fresh berries, one tbsp natural peanut butter. Blend and enjoy!
Toast and PB: Carbohydrates are perfect for providing and restoring energy before and after a workout. Try a slice of whole-grain toast smeared with almond butter and sliced banana.
Yogurt and Granola: Another great combination of protein and carbs is 1 cup of organic yogurt topped with ¼ cup of your favorite granola and fresh berries.
Let get real: Hormone changes before and during "that time of the month" can have you craving hard. Next thing you know, you're dipping carrots into a tub of chocolate frosting, feeling sad and defeated. There's a better way. Ultimately, your body is trying to tell you what it needs, and it sends this message via a craving.
Dried Fruit: Naturally, you'll crave sugar. But instead of reaching for gumdrops and red vines, try dried fruit. The natural sugar from the fruit will offset the craving for less healthful sugar options. Apricots, dates, and pineapple are great choices.
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Roasted, Savory Garbanzo Beans: These suckers are high in magnesium, which helps relieve water retention and bloating. Plus, they're super-simple to make and fun to snack on! Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse, strain, and pat beans dry. Lay on roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with sea salt and herbs of choice. Roast for 30 minutes, then munch away those crampers.
Natural Turkey Jerky: One serving is rich in zinc, a mineral that can help soothe menstrual pain, cramping, and bloating.
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By Rebecca Taras and Jessica Marie, Refinery29