Cheating on Your Meals
A common question when changing to a more whole foods approach toward eating is, “What should I have for a snack”? Or, “What can I eat between meals?”
Snacks are very big in our culture. We see and hear advertisements for them all the time. It’s enough to make you wonder if we would even remember to grab a snack if we weren’t told to do it so often. But most Americans do remember, spending $4.26/day on snack foods and beverages. With our busy schedules, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner have lost their place as regular meals. Many people use snacks to get them through the whole day, and then aren’t hungry for an actual meal.
The next time you go to grab a snack, try to be mindful about why you’re doing it:
- If you’re really hungry, then think about what you had for the previous meal. Was it enough? Maybe if you bumped up the protein, fat, or fiber it would keep you satisfied longer and you wouldn’t be thinking about snacking right now. Keep that in mind when you plan your meals for the next day.
- Do you have the urge to snack because you always have a snack at that time of day? Habits are powerful things. Through repetition we trick our brains into thinking we need to do something at a certain time. Why not test this theory out and see what happens when you skip the snack? For one day, have a glass of water or go for a walk instead. If you live, then this might be a habit worth breaking.
- Ok, fine, you’re legitimately hungry even though you had a satiating breakfast of protein, fibrous vegetables, and good fat. Well, if you’re so hungry you should probably have your next meal. Snacks are often one type of food or macronutrient, while meals tend to be more thought out and include a wider variety of nutritional sources. So instead of ruining your appetite for your next meal, just move it ahead a little.
Snacks are a quick fix – they treat the symptoms, not the root cause. If you’ve recently changed your dietary habits, or ramped up your physical activity then your meal scheme will likely need to change, too. Pay attention to
what your body is trying to tell you. If your feel hungry in between meals, you don’t necessarily need to do anything right away. I’m confident that you won’t starve to death if you hang out with that feeling 20 or 30 minutes. It may go away altogether, and your next meal will be that much more satisfying.