18 Soul-Satisfying Snacks From Our Nutritionist

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Nutrition_Ad3Do your food habits make you cranky? Longing for a mid-afternoon nap? Or craving coffee and a cookie? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you’re in need of a snack overhaul. Healthy snacks are part of a healthy diet because they help you maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, which helps stave off irritability, midday sleepiness, and the sudden, intense desire for sweets.

The ideal snack (like any healthy meal) consists of lean protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrate. When you eat a snack with each of these components — P, F, and C — your body makes use of each appropriately, slowly converting small amounts of the food into sugar to give you the energy you need. Conversely, in the absence of PFC your body tends to convert the food to sugar more rapidly. As this sugar surges into your bloodstream, it triggers the release of insulin from your pancreas, which in turn causes your sugar level to crash precipitously shortly thereafter. These swings in blood sugar are exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Consider keeping any of the following healthy snacks on hand when you’re in the office or for days when you’re on the go:

Nuts and Seeds + Fruits and Veggies

Quick tips: Stick with raw, unsalted nuts. If berries are out of season, buy frozen organic berries (with nothing else added) and defrost them, a cup at a time, so they’re ready whenever you need them.

In the Office
1. 2 tablespoons (tbsp) almond butter +  an apple
2. 2 tbsp almond butter +  raspberries/cherries
3. 2 tbsp sunflower seed butter +  pomegranate arils on a brown rice cracker
4. 2 tbsp sunflower seed butter +  blueberries
5. 2 tbsp peanut butter +  celery sticks

On the Go
6. Trail mix with dried coconut and dark chocolate chips (be wary of sweet trail mixes with lots of dried fruit, and/or M&Ms, etc.)
7. 1 small handful of walnuts & 2 dried apricots chopped into small pieces
8. 1 small handful of pecans & 2 tbsp dried goji berries
9. 1 small handful of pistachios

Vegetables + Whole Grains + Legumes

Quick tip: Tired of humdrum hummus? Try a garlic, roasted red pepper, or eggplant variety. For hummus and white bean spread recipes, take a look at the recipes on the Whole Foods web site.

In the Office
10. Vegetable crudités + whole grain crackers  + 3 to 4 tbsp hummus
11. Vegetable crudités + brown rice crackers + 3 to 4 tbsp white bean spread

On the Go
12. 1 small handful edamame

Dairy + Fruit + Whole Grains

Quick tips: Beware of granola that’s loaded with sugar: Divide the number of grams of sugar by four to get the number of teaspoons in one serving.  (For example, 12g sugar = 3 tsp of sugar).  Ideally sugar should account for less than 10% of your total daily caloric intake. Also, be sure that the sugar is from a recognizable source such as honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, or raw cane sugar.

In the Office
13. 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt + a handful of berries
14. 1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt + 1-2 tbsp minimally and naturally sweetened granola
15. Half an avocado with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic or a squeeze of fresh lime (Enjoy this on a whole wheat/brown rice cracker or on its own).

On the Go
16. 3  to 4 slices of goat cheese + 1 apple or pear
17. Cherry tomatoes (when in season) with olives + feta cheese (about the size of 2-3 dice)
18. Hard boiled egg with a sprinkling of sea salt (on a cracker or on its own)

Size Matters

All too often snacks are misconstrued as full meals. If you’re really hungry, know that choosing nutrient-dense foods with lower caloric values, such as fruits and vegetables mixed with a little healthy fat and protein (such as the aforementioned) will help you achieve satiety, and avoid blood sugar swings. Calories can be a helpful gauge here: Do your best to keep snacks within the 100 to 250 calorie range.

Last but not least, remember that variety truly is the spice of life.  Rotation is a vital part of any diet, and that applies to snacks, too –the more you rotate your diet, the greater your intake of a broader variety of nutrients, and the less likely you are to develop of food sensitivities. So, keep it interesting by trying different snacks!

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

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