Repeat after me…
Snacks are good. The right low glycemic snacks will help me lose weight.
I need to have a snack plan.
Okay, I can hear you thinking “What is she crazy! I don’t even have a plan for dinner.” Maybe… but let me explain. Especially if you are one of those people that loves the vending machine, Starbucks or raids the cookie jar every afternoon. You need this!
Snacks are good.
Have you ever been so hungry before a restaurant meal that you eat the whole bread basket before it arrives? Are you so ravenous that before you get home to make the meal that you planned that you pick up a fast food meal instead because you can’t wait? You need to snack.
Snacking helps to…
- Level out blood sugar levels so we eat less at meals
- Keep hunger at bay so can perform well, think clearly and problem solve throughout the day
- Fill in the nutrient gaps
But they need to be the right kind of snacks. Candy and most convenience food like chips, crackers and even a piece of fruit by itself can make matters worse. Foods high in sugar will give you that quick high but eventually an equally quick low. For me, just even eating a piece of fruit by itself makes me hungrier than before I ate it.
The key to healthy snacking is choosing whole foods that will raise your blood sugar level slowly. It’s not necessarily choosing all low glycemic foods but COMBINING foods so we have a lower “glycemic load.” I don’t mean to get all scientific here but the truth is most people don’t eat foods in isolation so the glycemic load is the how several foods combined together affect the blood sugar level. That is why just looking at a glycemic index of foods really doesn’t mean anything. For more on this topic click here.
Here’s how to create a low glycemic snack. Just follow these principles.
1. Use whole foods
Whole foods have larger food particles and take longer for the body to break down and absorb, so they move more slowly through your digestive system and have a lower glycemic response. In general, the less processed a food is, the better. Think whole rather than refined grains, whole fruit rather than fruit juice, whole veggies and popcorn instead of chips.
2. Pair with Protein
The stomach empties more slowly with protein in it. Adding a little protein to a carbohydrate-based snack—like adding a few nuts to a piece of fruit or a sprinkle of cheese to your pasta bowl, or a light smear of peanut butter on whole grain crackers—can lower the glycemic value of your snack
3. Include Fiber
By definition, fiber is the part of plant foods that cannot be digested by the body, so fiber-rich foods like beans, nuts, dried fruits, high-fiber cereals, veggies and whole grains are inherently low. Focus on boosting fiber by eating more foods like these along with a little protein.
4. Add a little bit of healthy fat
Like protein, fat also slow down digestion, so including a little fat can lower a food’s absorption, too. If you’re watching calories, be moderate. Like a handful of carrots with a bit of tasty dressing or a sprinkle walnuts on your yogurt.
Now make a plan.
I buy a weeks’ worth of snacks when go grocery shopping on Sunday. Here’s what’s on my snack menu this week.
Steph posted another easy snack idea last week – Cottage cheese on sliced tomatoes with basil.
I’ll post some other great low glycemic snack ideas next week. Stay tuned for more.