When I was growing up my mom often said, “If you
eat throughout the day, you wouldn’t be famished when you get home from school,” as I reached for every chip bag and sweet I could find. At the time, I didn’t listen. Not only because I was a stubborn teenager, but it also didn’t make sense to me. Today, however, my mom’s advice rings true to me. Eating a snack during the day (or multiple if your body needs it!) is important to fuel our brains, the greatest consumer of glucose in our bodies. Please note that when I talk about snacking and its importance, I mean mindfully and intuitively, not stress snacking or mindless munching, that’s a whole other post. The snacking I am talking about is the energy rich kind that
feeds our stomachs and our brains throughout the day. Snacks are important to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Many of us have experienced a headache, fatigue or anxiety during the day, which we do not necessarily link to low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can decrease our focus and potentially put our bodies into temporary starvation mode (see previous blog post). These symptoms are ways our body tells us that they need fuel. Honor that hunger and desire instead of ignoring it! In additional to the biological importance of snacking, eating enough throughout the day will prevent overeating later, just like my mom tried teaching me. Most of us lead busy lives, sometimes too busy to eat. When we deprive our bodies from food throughout the day, we are famished once we take the time to sit down and relax. Exactly like my habits as a teenager, our instincts are to eat everything in sight because that’s all our bodies need in the moment. Evenings that follow snackless or mealless days can lead to overeating, or even binges. This is hard on our bodies of course, and it also engrains the restrictbinge cycle, which eventually leads to weight gain. Also, the food that we are reaching for in the evenings are rarely steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, it’s fast food, salty and sweet food, hence the common unwanted weight gain. I do not recommend food tracking unless prescribed by your nutritionist, although I do recommend journaling and tracking if it leads to a greater understanding of self. If you decide to incorporate a snack into your day, keep track of your eating habits, especially in the evening. Are you reaching for quick bites, or are you able to have a nice meal at the end of your day? See if you notice any patterns when journaling. I can tell you what I have learned, but you will learn the importance of snacking by noticing your own patterns and habits.
Snacking done well : ● Although tempting, try to ignore headliners such as “100 Snack Ideas Under 100 Calories.” Instead, think of foods that will taste good to you, are convenient for your lifestyle, and will keep you satisfied for a couple of hours: ○ Full fat yogurt or cottage cheese ○ Fruit and nut butter ○ Nuts ○ Crackers and cheese ○ Vegetables and hummus ● You may be able to time your snacks based on your hunger, although it may be nice to set a reminder throughout the day to have a snack, especially if you have a busy schedule. Be sure to talk with your nutritionist to determine what is best for you! ● Keep snacks handy: store a granola bar (my personal favorites are Kind bars and Larabars) or nuts and dried fruit in your car, your purse, or your desk at work. ● If it would be helpful for you, keep track of your snacking habits. Answer just a few questions: What time was I hungry? Did I honor my hunger by having a snack? What was my snack? When I got home from work, what did I do? Did I mindlessly snack or overeat?
When I was growing up my mom often said, “If you
Recently, I have a new found joy for cooking. I used to spend hours of my day preoccupied by food, anxious around mealtime and at the grocery store, and collecting recipes that I never made. I often ate the same meals every single day for weeks to avoid discomfort! This may sound familiar to you, although our discomfort around food and cooking can vary significantly. Not only was I spending too much time thinking (negatively) about food, it also took away the enjoyment of food and cooking that I have recently discovered.
Cooking can be daunting, especially if you have never really cooked anything before. The reward of having a delicious tasting meal that you made is worth it. I recommend tackling the challenge by cooking one new meal per week. This is a gentle approach to cooking, and can limit unrealistic expectations. It can be an easy meal that you have never made before, or one with several ingredients and spices! Also, consider cooking for someone or with someone to make the process that much more enjoyable. Do whatever you think will be helpful for you to start your journey to dining well.
Through cooking, you can discover what dishes you enjoy making, what flavors you like, and what foods you dislike. For me, cooking is also a creative outlet! Trying new recipes, altering them to my taste, and putting dishes together are great ways for me to be creative. In my own experience, altering my thoughts and approach to cooking have opened several new doors that were closed before, like trying new cuisines or unusual dishes, or trying a challenging recipe. I have channeled my food, meal and grocery shopping anxiety into creativity and enjoyment. I promise this step is worth it.
● Create a less daunting week in terms of meal prep: create a shopping list to just go once per week, and have your dinners planned out ahead of time. If the recipe and time permits, think about preparing things ahead of time.
● Peruse our very own HartsSpace Pinterest page for inspiration on your cooking adventures and start your own board of recipes that you would like to try.
● Don’t overdo it. Start with one new meal per week and even repeat that recipe a couple of times. Create cooking habits that you are excited about keeping.