Make Every Bite Count
In my overview of the four pillars of healthy eating, I talked about the concept of getting the most bang from every bite. Sounds cool, but what exactly do I mean by that?
It means making sure every bite of food you take and every calorie you consume throughout the day packs in as many nutrients as possible. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a 500-calorie donut is far less healthy for you than a 500-calorie meal of salmon, a rainbow of fresh veggies and brown rice. One of them fills your gut with empty calories, and the other enriches your body with beneficial resources.
You may also remember in my guide to combating cravings that I discussed the importance of staying well-fed throughout the day. Too many people think that “eating healthy” means skipping meals, listening to a growling stomach and having hanger-management issues. But that’s a recipe for disaster: When your brain thinks you’re starving, your discipline is likely to go out the window, and you’re prone to make bad food decisions.
So in this post, we’ll talk about the intersection of those two things: Getting the most bang from every bite and remaining well-fed throughout the day.
Let’s talk healthy snacks!
Just as too many people think “healthy eating” means “not eating at all,” a lot of people think eating healthy means eliminating snacks. That is 100% not the case. Healthy snacks should be an important part of your daily routine. They’ll help you ward off hunger, they’ll give you that extra energy you may need throughout the day, and they’ll even give you an opportunity to round out your nutrient intake with different rainbow colors of plant-based foods.
In fact, snacking is something I do two or three times every day. About an hour and a half after I eat a healthy breakfast, I have a healthy snack. I have another healthy snack around 3:30 p.m. to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. And if I really need it, I’ll have another healthy snack between dinner and bedtime.
At any time of day, my go-to snacks are fruit (usually a pint of berries, half a grapefruit or an apple), vegetables (carrots or cucumbers with hummus), or walnuts (but just a few – about eight is all). And remember how I talked about turning healthy leftovers into a healthy breakfast? I do the same thing with snacks: If I need a small bite and I have leftovers from a previous meal, I often snack on that.
Remember, healthy fats such as the ones you’ll find in nuts and seeds are still fats. Nuts and seeds are high in calories, which means you should only consume about half a handful of them per day. More importantly, you’ll need to make sure those seeds and nuts are always unroasted and unsalted to keep them as healthy as they can be.
Looking for more ideas on how to snack smarter and make every bite count?
It’s important to snack on real foods while keeping those portions, added sugars, sodium, and fats in check. It’s also important to make sure you don’t exceed your maximum amount of calories per day, as snacks still count toward that limit.
Here are a few quick and easy options for your healthy snack regimen:
- Popcorn (with light salt/oil)
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruit (minimal)
- Avocado (1/2 per day)
- Green smoothie
- Raw nuts and seeds (unroasted and unsalted; 1-2 ounces or half handful per day)
- Eat a small meal (leftovers)