You’re two hours into your morning, and it happens — that hollow, roaring noise that turns heads and outcompetes the jarring noise a pin makes when it hits the floor and echoes. You are so embarrassed, but there is no turning back now.
Your stomach just growled or grumbled very loudly, and now everyone at work knows you are hungry. Unfortunately, it’s only 9 am–still hours away from lunch–and you don’t want to ruin your weight loss plan with a snack, so you decide to power through the morning with that hollow, gnawing feeling inside.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to skip snacks to maintain a well-balanced, healthy nutrition plan. Eating snacks can benefit your weight loss plan, as long as you choose healthy options and keep your portion sizes reasonable. When you plan out your healthy snacks correctly, they yield many benefits to your health and well-being.
Snacks supply your body with longer-lasting energy, fuel you with key nutrients, keep your hunger at bay, and reduce overeating at mealtime.
Able is here to show you how to snack the right way so that you can be kind to your body and sustain a holistic lifestyle with nurturing health and wellness practices. Feel better from now on and for good with our favorite heart-healthy snack options below.
A heart-healthy diet comprises many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high quality proteins, grass-fed dairy, fiber, and good fats. With these options, you supply your body with sustainable fuel, including vitamins and minerals, to provide you with more consistent energy to get you through the day.
Look for snacks rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, especially potassium and calcium. These foods naturally target and help regulate blood pressure.
In addition to fiber, whole grains are a great way to help naturally lower your blood pressure and boost your heart health. Rather than buying refined grain products at the store, look for whole wheat flour or 100% whole wheat or grain bread. Moreover, choose cereals with at least five grams of fiber, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, or individual whole grains such as brown rice.
Finally, make sure that your diet involves plentiful “good” fats, including nuts, seeds, olive oil, MCT oil, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, and avocados.
As an added boost, omega-3 is a particular type of good fat that helps target and lower high cholesterol levels. Make sure you incorporate some fatty fish for a good omega-3 supply; ground flaxseed is also high in omega-3 as well as fiber. Walnuts, brazil nuts, sea vegetables, organic soybeans, and organic canola oil are also great omega-3 sources.
General recommendations suggest you should limit added sugars, salts, and saturated and trans fats. Foods with these ingredients fill you with empty calories — in other words, they do not fill you up at all because they are high in calories but low in essential nutrients that would ordinarily keep you full.
Foods with these ingredients may also put you at a higher risk for heart disease due to tendencies to either raise blood pressure, raise harmful cholesterol levels, or both.
In general, this means that you should limit fried foods, canned foods high in sodium, processed foods (particularly fatty or processed meats), and frozen dinners. You should also limit soft drinks, salty chips, candy, baked goods, and foods made with refined flours.
Notice how we say ‘limit,’ and not ‘avoid,’ though! Most people achieve well-balanced nutrition plans and healthy lifestyles through habit and behavior change, not restrictive dieting. As long as you live with the principle ‘everything in moderation’ always in mind, you will be able to maintain a successful healthy lifestyle while still allowing yourself to indulge in sweet treats once in a while.
Most people start with a sweet breakfast, or a breakfast that is high glycemic - made of starch or sugar (think cereal, oatmeal with maple syrup, toast with jam, pancakes or waffles). This can create a blood sugar spike and then a dip which creates hunger and cravings for the entire day.
Instead, start your day with a savory one that includes good fats, fiber, and protein and you'll likely notice a difference. This will keep your blood sugar more stable and avoid those peaks and troughs that promote hunger and cravings. Eggs and smoked salmon, eggs and avo, plain greek yogurt with nuts, seeds, and berries.
Also remember that poor sleep will also make you crave more sugary, starchy foods the next day so keeping tabs on your good quality sleep routine is key!
Plan ahead to ensure that you always have a healthy snack supply readily available to consume. This is especially helpful if you have a busy or stressful week; planning ahead and having the right healthy ingredients on hand can make all the difference! It is so much easier to make a healthy choice when you have many healthy options at your fingertips.
In addition, make sure that you read nutrition labels in order to properly portion your snacks. Doing your nutrition label homework will help you avoid overeating, consuming unwanted ingredients and stay on track.
Nuts are a great choice for a heart-healthy snack as they comprise many nutritious ingredients that influence lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They are a nutritious and sustaining snack full of unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3s, protein, fiber, and vitamin E.
Some even add plant sterols to your diet, which can additionally help lower your cholesterol. Seeds are another great way to supply your body with “good,” unsaturated fats that are kind to your heart health.
There is a caveat, though: nuts are very high in calories, so you should be extra careful concerning your portion sizes. Try to limit your snack to one handful of nuts or a couple of tablespoons of nut butter.
While nut butter and oils are great healthy snack additions, they do not have as much fiber as raw nuts.
Vegetables are a good way to pack in nutrients and fuel your body with sustaining energy as long as they are paired with a good fat such as guacamole. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluable vitamins which mean they need to be eaten with a fat in order for your body to absorb them. Veggies have many vitamins and minerals, a generous amount of fiber, and, to top it all off, they are not high in calories.
These are good snacks as the good fats will help you to feel fuller longer and kick any cravings. Top with a paleo granola, chia seeds, and some berries for a quick snack!
Try some sardines, a little bit of salmon, mackerel, or tuna fish to get your omega-3 boost in.
Make a green smoothie with lots of dark, leafy greens, a scoop of protein powder (plain, vanilla, or chocolate sweetened only with stevia), half an avocado for creaminess, and some berries as berries are lowest in sugar. Blend and enjoy!
Get your omega-3s in with some salmon and seed crackers. This combo is a British favorite that you may not have tried before.
Top with guacamole or hummus!
Chia seeds are packed with fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels. When combined with protein powder, this snack can help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.
Channel your inner creativity! Pair different fruits, vegetables, good fats, and proteins:
Healthy snacks are a great addition to a well-balanced diet and can enhance weight loss efforts when you plan them right. When you incorporate healthy snacking into your healthy lifestyle habits, you work towards a happier, healthier you.
With this heart-healthy snack guide, Able is here to help you feel like yourself again with achievable goals and visible results. Get your nutrition plan now to start making a change today.