Managing hunger levels is one of the keys to weight loss and maintenance.
One of the easiest ways to manage hunger is to have mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. This ensures that your hunger levels stay consistent throughout the day, never allowing you to get to the point of being too full or too hungry.
Knowing you have a snack built into your daily meal plan will stop you from overeating at your main meals, and will prevent you from going into a meal feeling ravenous, which usually leads to overeating.
Also, when you allow yourself to get to the starving point, your blood sugar drops and you crave anything that will get it back up again—including white carbs and refined sugar.
Not any snack will do
All that being said, it’s important that you choose the right kinds of snacks. Here is a list of criteria you should consider when choosing a snack:
-There should be a combination of fibre or healthy carbs and protein to keep you feeling satisfied longer;
-If you choose a snack that is high in fructose (for example, an apple), make sure you combine it with a protein (for example, almond butter) to prevent your blood sugar from spiking.
-It should be between 150 and 250 calories maximum. Keep in mind this is a snack; anything higher starts to move into the meal category.
This weekend I made some fruit and nut bars that are perfect for maintaining hunger levels. They are a combination of dried fruit (sources of fibre), nuts (sources of protein and healthy fats), whole wheat flour, coconut sugar (natural and doesn’t spike your blood sugar) and egg. They are the perfect combination of chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty and they are super easy to make.
The bars include three different types of dried fruit: apricots, dates and raisins that I consider healthy choices:
Dried apricots are a source of non-heme or vegetarian iron (heme iron can cause inflammation and risk of toxicity, especially in men), fiber and beta-carotene (converts into vitamin A in the body, which is good for healthy skin, hair and eyes).
Dates are a source of fibre and potassium.
Raisins are a source of antioxidants,
NOTE: look at the nutrition label before buying dried fruit, and make sure there is no added sugar, oil or preservatives
Chewy Crunchy Fruit & Nut Bars
1/3 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup dates chopped (can buy pre-chopped at Bulk Barn)
1 cup California raisins
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (can use any nuts you like)
½ cup raw almonds roughly chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325º F
Line a small square baking pan with parchment paper
Measure out dried fruit and nuts and set aside
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in fruit and nuts until they are fully coated.
In a small bowl combine the egg and vanilla and whisk for two minutes, until frothy.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until fully coated.
Spread mixture into baking pan, and smooth with a spatula.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Once cooled, pull out of the pan using the parchment paper, and cut into squares. Store in the fridge or freezer.
Healthy snack options
Here is my list of healthy snack ideas that you can start incorporating into your diet to help manage or lose weight. Happy snacking!
-Banana plus one tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter
-Sprouted bread or Ryvita rye cracker plus one tablespoon of almond butter
-Mary’s organic crackers plus half a cup of cottage cheese
-One of Lauren’s Chewy Crunchy Fruit and Nut Bars
-Fruit salad and chia seeds
-Five dried apricots plus 10 almonds
-Two tablespoons of homemade hummus plus cucumber and cherry tomatoes
-Frozen wild blueberries and Greek yogurt
-Date and almond smoothie: half a banana plus two dates plus almond milk plus two teaspoons of almond butter
-Two clementines plus five almonds plus one date
-One apple plus one tablespoon of almond butter