Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nutrition: Snack Time!

Oh, how I love to snack!

As a child, I would snack on simple things that we had lying around. Carrots, cheese, apples, peanut butter, sometimes chips, popcorn, maybe a piece of candy.

Then I grew up.

I nearly starved one semester in college, eating peanut butter sandwiches, corn, pop tarts, and spaghetti. I didn't have money for treats that semester. I walked to class a lot that year. I was underweight. Fortunately, I took a daily vitamin.

After I got a job money was still an issue and what to cook and pack in lunches was top priority. Dollar microwave meals full of sodium, granola bars high in sugar, and bottled drinks full of high fructose corn syrup were the cheapest route. Snacks came in convenient packages, or boxes of crackers that could be divvied up into sandwich baggies.

Snacks can be my downfall. I find myself eating the most snacks as I watch TV right before bed. I get "the munchies" and want to fill up my stomach for the night's hibernation.

What is a healthy snack?

Here is what to look for in a good healthy snack:

  • Under 200 calories
  • 10 grams of protein
  • 5 grams of fiber
Examples:
  • Apple and glass of milk
  • Pita chips and hummus
  • dried berries and nuts
  • crackers and tuna
  • toast with chopped pears, cottage cheese, and crushed walnuts in a spread (haven't tried this)


I like to eat apples with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, and a banana with a cheese stick.

These snacks remind me of what I ate as a child. Why did I stop eating like this? 

I guess, I learned how to find the cheap food, the sweet, fattening, pre-packaged things that grocery stores put right out there at eye-level. It was cheaper, easier. They then made 100 calorie packs, to make me feel better about packing my lunch.

But they are still unhealthy.

I got married and times were still tough. Food that was not as healthy was cheaper. Flavorings, corn syrups, preservatives, things that make food processing fast and bulky also made it cheaper to produce and sell. We tried all kinds of microwave meals, pre-packaged foods, and things that would keep for a long time so we could buy in bulk. My husband and I had limited knowledge of recipes to cook from. We had to expand our cooking repertoire. We had to learn to read labels, study, and find out the hard way that we were not eating the things our bodies needed.

Then we had kids. 

The time is ripe to teach them good eating and healthy snacking skills. If we don't buy it, they can't eat it.

So I am going back to snacking like a kid. For myself, for my kids, and for the future. No kool-aid for them, no cookies, no artificially flavored juices, no sugary fruit snacks, no pop tarts, no snack cakes, no microwave meals. Rarely, we do buy some of these things, but the goal is to teach them to eat the good things more than the bad.

The foods I ate as a kid are good enough for my own kids and they continue to be the best choices for me.

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