Life as Mom can feel chaotic and crazy which is why it’s so easy to grab junky-ish food for a snack when you’re hangry and don’t even want to think about calories and carbs and macros and whatever else you’re supposed to be worrying about when you’re working on being healthy.
(This can be especially true when you’re breastfeeding and could just eat all the things, all the time!)
In my own life I don’t follow a strict meal plan or diet. I just embrace a simple nutrition mantra:
Eat lots of veggies (especially greens), go for the good fats and proteins, and dodge the refined sugar and processed stuff as much as possible.
This means that, sure I have sweet treats now and then, and sometimes I eat grains, gluten and dairy, but most of the time I focus on a non-fussy whole foods approach.
Because I want to feel good and full of energy, but I also don’t want to deprive myself of treats and yummy things that I love and will eat from time to time.
This, to me, is my balance. It works for me (and can probably work for you, too). Here’s why.
As you can see, there are 3 parts to my nutrition mantra. And I focus on them for very specific reasons.
Why Processed Foods & Sugar Are Not the Bomb
The less processed stuff part is probably pretty obvious. There can be some sneaky ingredients – like additives, preservatives and other weird chemically stuff – in processed food that I don’t want in my body. Especially not on a regular basis.
And there’s often a bunch of refined sugar in most processed foods. Too much of the sweet stuff can make our blood sugar go crazy and our mood and energy go south (which is not good for us or anyone around us).
And did you know that sugar can actually deplete your body of essential vitamins and minerals which can make you feel lethargic and cranky?
That’s why I opt for no sugar, or less refined sugar options whenever I can. My energy and mood is more stable, I sleep better and feel more rested, and I’m just a happier person.
Do I skip it all the time?
Nope. Sometimes that ice cream or fudgy brownie is just so delicious and worth it that I dive right in.
But it’s just not part of my everyday life because I feel better when I focus on sugar-less foods over sugary, processed foods.
That’s my balance. You get to decide what yours should be.
Fat & Protein Is Where It’s At, Friend!
In terms of the protein and fat, when we get enough protein and fat we stay fuller longer, our blood sugar levels are more stable (which has far reaching impact including how our hormones regulate), and we’re not so prone to devour everything in sight out of hangriness. (Been there. Done that!).
You probably get why protein is important – it’s always been something nutrition folks like myself recommend to ensure you have sustained energy and can rebuild your body after a workout.
But fat is a tricky subject that still worries a lot of people.
It’s long been thought that fat makes you fat. But that’s not necessarily true.
I highly recommend you check out this podcast episode with Nina Teicholz, the New York Times Bestselling author of The Big Fat Surprise to learn more about why fat is actually good for us.
It’s involved in so many functions in our body – including brain health. So don’t be afraid to enjoy it.
Just remember that I’m talking about the fat you get from things like meat, nuts, coconuts and fish. Not McDonald’s fries. That’s – obviously – not the healthiest option. 😉
Veggies, Veggies Everywhere
And of course it’s pretty obvious why I do my best to gobble up all the veggies I can.
We need energy to keep up with the craziness of #MomLife and veggies give us the vitamins and minerals we need to feel good and have awesome energy.
They also have fiber, antioxidants and other key goodies for our body to enjoy.
And the fact is that the more colourful your plate, the more variety of nutrients you’re getting in your body. Which is why “eating the rainbow” is a thing.
A simple way to incorporate more veggies into my life is making sure that for most meals at least 1/2 – 1/3 of my plate is veggies.
Meals in the Dalton house are often quite simply a meat and 1-2 veggies sauteed, steamed, or baked. Nothing fancy. Simple works best. It doesn’t need to be fancy to be nutritious and delicious.
Onto the Snacks!
Now that I’ve given you a quick lowdown on my simple mantra and why I love it in my life (and encourage you to adopt it too), here are some ideas for snack options to keep the hangry away (and give you enough energy to chase your toddler around the house at least 15 more times to try to get socks on their little feet!)
When I can, I prefer to go the homemade route because I know what’s in the food I’m eating (and feeding my kiddo). I know this isn’t always an option all the time, but if I make an effort to be prepared I usually have some nutritious something on hand I can grab and run with.
But don’t despair if you’re looking for ready-made finds. Some of these ideas are already store-made, or there are buyable options. It doesn’t always have to be homemade.
If the more convenient option is a bit more processed, with a bit more sugar, that’s okay. Just search for the healthiest, most nutrient dense option you can find. Whatever it is, it’s probably still better than drive-thru so don’t beat yourself up about being perfect.
P.S. All of these ideas can be replacements for easy, quick breakfasts, lunches and dinners too!
:: Avocado Toast – My fave way to eat avo toast is on thinly sliced sweet potatoes with some sea salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Yes!
:: Deli Meat – You can dip it in mustard or just eat it on its own. If I’m feeling feisty I love wrapping proscuitto around pitted dates and cooking ’em in the oven at 425F for about 8-10 minutes. It sounds fancy and time consuming but it’s done and in the oven within 5 minutes.
:: Tuna or Chicken Salad – You can add some bread or eat it with cucumbers or celery. I recommend finding a good quality mayo. I love Chosen Foods mayo.
:: Mini Frittatas – These are something you can make ahead to have for grab and go breakfasts or easy snacks later in the day. Try these bacon and veggie ones.
:: Scrambled Eggs – Who says you can only eat scrambled eggs for breakfast? You can even toss in some veggies and get some more nutrition going. It’s a quick, easy, healthy snack that’s a go-to if you’re breastfeeding and ravenous.
:: Nuts or Trail Mix – Grab a handful and you’re golden. You can buy pre-made versions (try to stay away from ones with added sugar) or easily make your own using your fave nuts and dried fruit.
:: Popcorn – I could eat popcorn every day. Every. Day. I slather mine in organic butter and Himalayan sea salt. Yum!
:: Sweet Potato Fries & Dip – I love these sweet potato fries with avocado, lime & cilantro dip.
:: Bone Broth – Full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and loaded with immune-boosting power, bone broth is awesome. I love sipping it throughout the winter and even sometimes in the summer when I’m craving something warming.
It’s usually enough to fill me up between meals if I realize I need a little something-something. You can buy it ready-made from companies like Kettle and Fire or it’s really easy to make your own using recipes like this one.
:: Sea Snax – If you like sushi (or seaweed), try these. They honestly won’t fill you up because they have so few calories in ’em – so you may want to pair them with a handful of nuts or some cheese – but they can definitely satisfy a salty craving and they’re full of key minerals to help keep your energy levels stable.
:: “Healthy” Chips – There are about a billion different kids of kale, plantain, sweet potato and other chip-like snacks on the market.
Seek out ones that are fried in oils like sunflower and coconut over non-organic canola oil and opt for the ones without any weird chemically additives and refined sugar. Ones like Alive and Radiant kale chips, Artisan Tropic plantain and cassava chips, and Hard Bite sweet potato, beet, carrot and parsnip chips.
Just remember, they’re chips so they aren’t a superfood but you can find ones that are less junky than the mainstream guys. It’s all about doing your best whenever you can 🙂
The Sweeter Stuff
:: Gummies – Gelatin is great for our skin and digestion but the stuff you find in most store-bought gummies is not healthy and full of white sugar and artificial junk that I don’t want in my body (or my kiddo’s body) on a regular basis. That’s why I love making my own gummies like these guys, or opting for healthier versions like Smart Sweets.
:: Yogurt – Opt for sugar-free versions when you can. I love high protein, high fat plain yogurt with a touch of honey and some frozen blueberries tossed in. Yum!
:: Smoothie – If you work in an office you can even bring one in and stick it in the fridge or freezer for later. Jen and her team over at Simple Green Smoothies have tons of ideas to keep you nourished.
:: Applesauce – When Avery started eating apple sauce as a baby I was reminded how delicious it is. You can even add some walnuts for extra crunch and fullness factor. Try this recipe from Joyous Health.
:: Chia Pudding – A good fat filled sweet treat with no refined sugar? Yes please! P.S. If you’ve tried chia pudding and you’re not a fan of the texture, try blending it before or after you pop it in the fridge to set. You can also opt for avocado pudding instead. So good!
:: Nut Butter with Fruit or Toast – Try to find a butter without added sugar and opt for gluten free or grain free bread if you’re wanting to ditch the wheat.
:: Leftover Waffle or Pancake With Nut Butter – This is my favourite simple waffle recipe. You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and have leftovers for quick breakfasts and snacks. You can even add easy homemade fat-fueled jam like this.
:: Protein-packed Cereal – Add some nut milk and you’ve got some great protein, fiber and fat to fill you up. Try this Maple Nut Granola recipe. If you’re going for store bought try Ezekiel or Love Grown.
:: Tea – I know this isn’t actually a munchie snack. But the truth is that sometimes when we feel hungry we’re actually just dehydrated and a nice herbal tea with a touch of honey could do the trick.
If you live somewhere warm and crave cold bevies instead of hot tea, try adding lemon, berries or cucumber and mint to your water to make it more delicious and more likely you’ll actually drink it 😉
Ready to try some of these treats to help curb your hunger in between meals?
Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t even need to be homemade.
Just focus on the 3 keys:
- Say yes to lots of veggies
- Opt for good quality fats and proteins
- Bypass the overly processed and sugary stuff when you can
And keep chugging along with the mantra of progress over perfection. Making the healthiest choices you can, when you can. And not beating yourself up if a pint of Ben & Jerry’s makes it into your cart. Sometimes a pint (or two) falls into my cart too 😉
Do you have some more ideas that you’d like to share? I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments below.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing.
Happy snacking 🙂
P.S. Did this post inspire you to make snack time healthier while still keeping things simple? I’d be super grateful if you shared it with all your friends.