By: Grace Abraham
Snacking. Whether it’s periodically throughout the day or at 2 am, we all do it. But are you looking for snacks that don’t cause oversnacking or create health problems you don’t need? Perfect! Because this story is for you!
Healthy eating is so much more than just choosing the healthiest foods. It also has to do with choosing foods that are going to help balance blood sugar levels, keep cravings at bay, and help keep you full between meals. I, for one, am trying to eat right this year and it’s been going surprisingly well. So I want to encourage others who find it difficult, but want to try, to eat better. For starters, let’s look at 2 important hormones: leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone that “inhibits” hunger, which in turn diminishes fat storage. This hormone communicates to the brain that you have enough stored fat, which curbs your appetite, signals the body to burn calories normally, and prevents excessive eating. But too much of this hormone will cause the exact opposite to take place and your ghrelin hormones will increase.
Ghrelin is what you’d call the “hunger hormone”. This little guy is what makes you hungry and promotes fat storage. In moderation, it’s necessary. The higher your levels, the hungrier you get. The lower your levels, the more full you feel.
But how does snacking have anything to do with hormones? Good question! The foods that you ultimately choose to snack on will decide whether or not you over-snack or feel satiated and energized. Sometimes healthy foods are labeled as really gross, but that’s because you’re eating foods that you don’t like, so of course you’ll hate them. Maybe you saw this coming, but natural foods have the best balance of both leptin and ghrelin, and are going to be your best snack product. Toss those processed things out and say hello to some fresh, delicious, and satiating items.
Low Fat Greek Yogurt:
Greek yogurt is very thick compared to regular yogurt, and is typically higher in protein. You can eat some of this yogurt with some fruit as a healthy breakfast or as a snack option. Greek yogurt is a lot more concentrated and has more protein than regular yogurt, so it’ll give you a lot of energy and keep you full until the next meal.
Vegetables are incredibly nutritious. They’re also loaded with all sorts of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds that our bodies need. Vegetables are also high-volume and low-calorie foods. They contain fiber and water, which adds bulk to your meals and helps fill you up.
Protein Shakes or Protein Bars:
More on the obvious side, protein shakes and protein bars will definitely keep you satiated and energized thanks to their high protein content.
Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse. Plus, they’re super delish and can be added to so many things. From adding some to a smoothie for extra creaminess to enjoying some avocado toast or homemade guac, you really can’t go wrong. And, avocados happen to be one of those foods that keep you full and come with numerous health benefits like packing in a mega-dose of fiber, healthy fat, and important vitamins and minerals like magnesium.
Potatoes are high in water, carbs, and contain moderate amounts of fiber and protein. They also contain almost no fat! As long as the potato is steamed or baked, it won’t increase cardiometabolic risk (the chances of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke). So yes, you can’t eat potato chips, but that’s okay. Toss those chips and eat a baked potato.
Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. A large egg contains around 6 grams of protein, including all 9 essential amino acids. It’ll raise your HDL (good cholesterol) and keep you full longer.
One recent study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people feel more full and less hungry after eating oatmeal, compared to ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. And if the taste or texture of oatmeal is a problem for you, just add a honey drizzled banana to it or some cinnamon powder to give that bland oatmeal a little pop of flavor.
Now that you have a solid list of what’s good, here’s what you should avoid anything that is processed:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Artificial food colorings
- Artificial sweeteners
Just remember to cut back on processed and packaged foods and incorporate more fresh ingredients into your diet to minimize your intake of food additives. And here’s the bottom line: choose foods that tend to be high in protein or fiber. Additionally, these foods tend to be whole, single-ingredient foods, not processed junk foods.