Some of the questions I get asked most often are around “snacks”
– is it best to eat 3 meals a day or 6 snacks?
– what do I eat before I go to the gym?
– what do I eat after the gym?
– what would be a healthy snack?
I typically start my response by emphasising that we are not all the same – we don’t all have the same metabolism or needs, we are not all doing the same work, we don’t have the same schedules or constraints – so like with most things with food we have to start tuning in to our own bodies to see what it needs.
That said, for some people who need to snack very often it can be a problem of blood sugar fluctuations and there we need to look at what they are eating for breakfast and lunch, coffee consumption and timing of meals to see if we can make changes that help the energy last for longer.
We often also need to tune into our ideas and experience of ‘hunger’ – am I actually thirsty instead? How am I hungry – I’ve smelt or seen something tempting, I’m bored, my mouth wants to chew something, I’m remembering a food I love, my stomach is rumbling…. hunger can happen on so many levels…
A healthy intestine needs a break every now and then. It is a meticulous house keeper and likes to get the brush out and clean between the thousands of villi in the small intestine. It needs time when we are not digesting to do this – sometimes it makes a noise when it is doing it…. we can welcome that rather than reach for the first biscuit in sight!
The food industry is very powerful and I do believe they have had a big influence behind these messages to eat 6 small meals a day – I don’t know anyone who is willing or able to cook 6 times a day, so you can pretty much guarantee that some of those 6 meals will be ‘pre-prepared’ either in a form of an healthy sounding oat bar or a packet of crisps or something out of the vending machine.
All that said, I have many clients who do sport at around 6pm and therefore don’t get home to eat until well after 8pm. For those people I recommend a healthy snack about an hour before doing sport and then something light like a homemade soup when they get home. They should also make lunch their main meal with lots of long lasting energy via whole grains!
So what type of snacks do I recommend?
1) Whole foods – a piece of fruit (apple, pear, banana)
2) Dried fruit or nuts or a wonderful combination of the two in these dates fllled with almond butter
3) Homemade hummus with carrots or celery or heads of cauliflower
4) Sticks of celery filled with organic peanut butter (which only contains peanuts and maybe a bit of sea salt – check the ingredients list)
So think before you snack, listen to your body…
Be prepared by having something with you if you think it might be needed…
Sit down and enjoy a snack as you would a meal – just because it is a snack, doesn’t mean you have to eat on the go…
If you have any other snack questions… let me know!