Snacking for real humans part 3
Snacks are tools. Make them work for you!
One of the most useful and effective tools that I used while providing outpatient nutrition counseling is called motivational interviewing. It’s based on asking questions to find out what motivates the client/patient and working from that motivation to decide what changes to make alongside the client. Not just telling the client what changes to make.
This is also what nutrition for real humans is all about. You are a real human with a real unique life. You are the expert in what’s going on in your life. You know what’s important to you. Your snacks should reflect that. So…
What do you want your snacks to do for you? What are you looking for from your snack?
This can change from day to day or from snack to snack. There’s no one right answer, and it might be more than one answer. Knowing what you want can make sure you choose the snack that will fulfill that purpose. The right tool for the job.
Here are some things you might want a snack to help you accomplish:
- Have more energy
- Gain weight
- Get more protein
- Eat more fruits
- Not be bored
- Satisfy a craving
- Have more stable blood sugar
- Avoid being so hungry that you buy the entire snack aisle at the grocery store
- Avoid being so hungry that you can’t make a decision about dinner so you end up putting it off until you have a headache so you just eat a bowl of ice cream and go to bed
- Eat more whole grains
- Eat more fiber
- Lose weight
- Eat more vegetables
- Drink more water
- Try new foods
- Waste less food
- Feel better about a bad experience
- Have enough energy and brain power for world domination
When you know what you want your snack to do for you, you can choose a snack that will be a good tool for the job
Having more than one thing that you want your snack to do can help you narrow down your options even more!
Let’s take an example: you are craving something salty and also want to increase your fiber intake. How about some salted nuts? Or some whole grain crackers? Veggies and ranch to dip? Or maybe you actually really want chips. So you have a little chips to satisfy the craving and you also eat an orange to get the fiber.
Another example: You want to be more hydrated and eat more vegetables. These go really easily together because vegetables have a high water content. Sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, snap peas, sliced bell peppers, salad, any of these would satisfy both goals.
You want to eat more fruit and have more energy at work, so you plan ahead by buying some portable and tasty dried mango to take with you
Sometimes you may need to prioritize one goal.
For example, you are really craving a donut, but you also have the goal of eating more fruits and you haven’t eaten any fruits yet today, so you prioritize the fruit goal and eat some grapes. Or you decide to prioritize the donut craving and eat some fruit later.
Or you need to eat something so that you don’t have a panic attack at work, but none of the vending machine snacks meet your avoiding sugar goal. But you REALLY don’t need to be having a panic attack at work, so you make the lowest sugar choice from the vending machine. (And maybe you buy a stash of snacks that DO meet your goal to keep in your locker for next time)
Or you’d love to eat an organic snack that doesn’t leave packaging waste but what you can afford is not either of those things, and you need to eat at regular intervals to manage your blood sugar and stay alive. Staying alive takes priority here.
Sometimes what’s available doesn’t meet all our snack needs, so we need to prioritize. But knowing what those goals are can help us choose the best snack from what’s there.
Sometimes the right snack is not a snack.
Sometimes when you determine why you want a snack you can decide that a snack isn’t actually what you were looking for. You needed a break from work or some comfort after a stressful phone call. Sometimes a snack can provide those things, but you may, once you know that’s what you’re looking for, decide you have a better solution.
This is for you if you don’t like snacks:
Maybe you don’t want snacks to do anything for you. Maybe you don’t like snacks or don’t like to eat between meals. That’s totally fine. Snacks are not required. You do you.
Principle 3 of snacking for real humans:
Know what you want a snack to do for you, then choose the right tool for the job.
If that’s world domination, then you’re going to need some nourishing snacks.
What do you want your snacks to do for you?
As are all of the posts in this blog, none of this is intended as medical or nutrition advice and is for educational purposes only. Speak with a registered dietitian-nutritionist or your primary care provider if you have questions about your specific nutrition needs.