My general rule : don’t snack. It is much easier to eat junk food when snacking. We also dismiss easily calories from snack but they easily add up. It is better to sit down with others and take a significant and balanced meal.
There are cases where snacking is ok. Endurance & strenuous exercise is a good case. Missing breakfast or a meal is another case. Eating something to prevent hypoglycemia or decrease effects of strong alcohol are other good cases.
That said, can we find healthy alternatives to chips, chocolate bars or biscuits?
My first choice would be a whole fruit or vegetable. A banana or an apple are convenient for transport, carry good nutrients for exercise and good fiber for your gut. A banana is also much cheaper than a chocolate bar or equivalent.
I buy a dozen bananas every week. Half go to runs and the other half are eaten in meals, lunches or dinner.
This is an obvious and boring choice. I know It doesn’t take a university degree to recommend fruits. It is like saying that regular exercise prevents most chronic diseases such as cancer or diabetes. That is obvious but still only a minority of Americans exercise regularly. I conclude that it is damn important to repeat and state the obvious : Fruits are CHEAP and GOOD for you. Eat your fruits and veggies. Nothing bad can come from over-consumption of fruit or vegetable, to the contrary.
A second choice would be nuts & peanuts. Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, macadam nuts etc. Nuts are even more practical for transportation compared to fruits, and can be packaged in any desired quantity. Nuts have good healthy fats and protein, and has a long list of health benefits. My favorite mix is nuts, peanuts mixed with grapes and berries, if any. The only caveat: compared to fruits and vegetables, nuts pack more calories. It is easy to eat more than what you need, and moderation is key. This is why I prepare mixes with small individual bags. These can be prepared in advanced, and stored for a long time. It’s actually my preferred nutrition for runs > 30km.
I also put seeds such as pumpkin seeds or flax seeds in this category. Pumpkin seeds is a good choice when you host an event.
Dark chocolate is my third choice for snacks. Chocolate have healthy fats and loaded with nutrients. It lowers your blood pressure and protects your heart. Did it say it’s delicious? 🙂
Like nuts, it is easy to indulge with chocolate. That’s why I only buy dark chocolate (>85%). Go through the labels and pick the ones that have the least sugar and milk in it. Tip: If you can support it, baker’s unsweetened chocolate does not have any sugar added. It’s bitter and not everyone likes it, but it goes into the definition of whole food for me.
What about dairy? Unfortunately dairy products are not good choices. Like red meat, milk is something that we get too much of. Unless you get from non-industrial sources, it’s overloaded with hormones, it’s inflammatory and if you are not careful, can accelerate the onset of chronic diseases. If you think otherwise, let me know in comments and we can discuss it 🙂
While safer, soft cheese are also to be avoided. Yoghurt, hard cheese are ok. But get informed first!
What’s next? You can mix and match. Use the oven to make sweet potato chips (45mn @ 200C). Get a food processor and mix the ingredients above. You will impress friends who won’t label you anymore as a food extremist.
My favorite dessert is frozen berries with soya milk. Mix frozen berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries), soya milk (1 glass), coconut shreds (2 tablespoons), grounded cinnamon (1 teaspoon). The coconut and cinnamon sweetens the mix which means you don’t have to add sugar. The soya milk gives consistency. The berries brings the taste and a load of antioxidants. Mix a minute in your food processor. It’s a 100% natural and healthy alternative to ice creams.
My other mix is nuts + dried fruits, with cinnamon and chocolate if you like. Mix with peanut butter in aluminum foal, and compress. This is your 100% natural and healthy alternative to protein and chocolate bars.