It's 7:57 am.
The kids haven't been fed and you're running out the door to get everyone where they need to be for the day.
You throw the kids a granola bar from the pantry and hope it fills their insides and has some sort of nutritional value to offer them.
We've all been there; those moments of rush and chaos you meant to plan for, but yet again, life seems to never slow down long enough for a plan to be made.
I spend a lot of time equipping my clients to be in control of their schedule and choices by helping them make a successful plan.
I too, struggle with balancing all of life's demands but have learned that if I have a plan for days that are on-the-go, I am much more successful at things like healthy snacking, despite the busyness of my schedule.
The truth is, we don't always have time for cooking and eating a regular meal. Snacking is a perfect way to feed everyone without having access to a kitchen.
So, how do you make those rush-out-the-door kinda mornings more successful in the food department?
First off, it's important to create a list of 10-20 snack options that you and your family love. Once you have that, you can make a plan to have those available for the busy days and moments.
Here's are some of the things we keep in mind to optimize healthy snacking:
1. Pair a sweet snack with a high-protein option to increase satiation and prevent sugar crashes.
It's easy to turn snack time into dessert. To prevent that, including protein in each snack will leave you with much more energy and stamina.
Examples of balanced snacking:
-pistachios and dried apricots
-peanut butter and apple
-almonds and banana
-boiled eggs and raisins
-avocado slices wrapped with turkey slices and strawberries
2. Look for granola bars with real food ingredients only or make your own (think: dates, nuts, shredded coconut, bananas, apples, etc; avoid bars with canola or soybean oil). Also, if the bar has more than 8 grams of sugar and less than 4 grams of protein, you'll need to include some extra protein with that snack.
Granola or protein bars can seem like healthy options, but more often than not they come with a slew of unhealthy, processed ingredients and tons of sugar (think: 15 grams). If you can't pronounce or haven't heard of some of the ingredients, look for one of the options I've listed below.
Examples of my favorite real-food bars:
-Lara bars (higher in sugar as they use dates as the base so eat some extra nuts on the side)
-Cave Man Paleo Bars--find at Costco (low in sugar, higher in protein so a good balanced snack!)
-Superfood No-Bake Chocolate Cookies
-Chocolate Protein Bars + Cashew Bites
3. Put snacks in baggies so they are ready to grab for a hike or running errands.
There's nothing worse than working hard to keep snacks around and then not having a spare moment to put them in a container before you leave the house.
Don't let the hard work and planning go to waste by skipping this essential step.
We try to go on one hike per week, even in the winter, and I often need quick snack food to grab as we head out the door. If I have baggies/containers already prepared for our hike (think: foods that don't melt with heat if it's summer time and can be easily taken in a hiking back-pack), I simply throw those in our pack and we are ready to go.
For example, if you are planning to do sliced apples and almond butter, you'll need to have sliced your apples (add lemon juice to prevent browning) and put almond butter in a small container ahead of time.
4. For at-home snacking, make a smoothie.
A great way to increase protein (+ fruits and veggies) and simplify "cooking" is to make a smoothie for a snack from time to time.
We love to use spinach as our green base and then add frozen fruits like mango, strawberries, banana, and blueberries.
You can also add superfoods like chia seeds or bee pollen to further increase the nutritional value and protein of the drink.
For a higher protein and calorie smoothie, you can blend chocolate protein protein with peanut butter, milk, and half of a frozen banana.
5. Snacking is useful for certain situations, but don't do it all day long.
Although I believe in the power of healthy snacking, I also follow the practice of shortening my feeding period so my body has time to heal, digest, and burn-fat.
It can bombard the digestive system if it is constantly processing food and never has time to rest.
Believe it or not, it's sometimes a good thing to embrace the feeling of being hungry--as long as you are getting a proper amount of calories each day, it's fine to "feel" hungry and not eat immediately. Your body actually purges toxins and heals whenever you are fasting from food.
What does this look like practically?...
Try to eat all of your food between an 8-12 hour feeding period, saving snacks for after a workout, hike, or other activity, or to hold you over if you don't have access to a kitchen to cook a regular meal (i.e. those days where you are running out of the house without breakfast or if you are traveling).