For the purpose of this article, let’s assume three things:
- You like to snack.
- You care about fitness.
- You would like to enjoy your snacks without derailing your fitness.
Without going into a deep discussion of why we feel the need to snack, we’ll just say that you are looking for something to satisfy you at that moment. (Something in the form of food. Haha)
What kind of snacker are you?
Your snack experience should be over when you are done. Thinking about what you really like will keep you from eating something else, and then looking for more to satisfy what you really wanted.
Ever really wanted some peanut butter but thought it was bad for you so you had a piece of fruit, but that didn’t satisfy you, so you went on to eat a few pretzels, and then some cheese?
Eating what you actually want for your snack will leave you less likely to eat around what you really want, a practice which often has you consuming more calories in the process, and never feeling satisfied because you never ate what you really wanted.
Take the #cosmoquiz!
Salty: Ooooh, guurrl you so salty. You love things like pickles, beef jerky, and salted peanuts. Something about salty food hits the spot.
Sweet: You’ve got that sweet tooth. You love anything sweet. That includes watermelon, chocolate, candy.
Cold: It’s always 98.6˚ in your mouth, so you want something cooooold. You like popsicles, ice cream, frozen berries.
Fuel: You don’t give a f*ck about any of this. You eat for fuel and because you are hungry. When you aren’t hungry, you don’t eat. BAM.
But what if more than one applies to me?
No worries! Rate them in the order of what you like best! Also, some of those will naturally go together. For example, peanuts and pickles can be both crunchy and salty.
That doesn’t mean we won’t talk about packaged foods—but we won’t talk about packaged foods that are marketed as snacks, especially branded as low calorie snacks.
What’s the difference?
We are going to look at two choices.
First Tier: Your most fuelsome (also not a word) options, these are all real food. Of course, you want to eat everything in “reasonable portion.” More about that a little later. But, when it comes to veggies, you are pretty much worry-free about calories. (Unless you eat an entire bags of carrots, which are higher in sugars, and will make your hands orange. Maybe don’t do that.)
Second Tier: These are packaged foods, but not engineered to make you crave more.
- Raw veggies, like sliced carrots, cucumbers, raw bell pepper
- Roasted edamame
- Kale chips
- Pretzels (unflavored)
- Cereal (some)
- Flax chips, veggie chips
- Dill pickles
- Salted almonds
- Feta cheese
- Flax seed chips (if you haven’t tried these, you should. They look like Fritos with spots, and they crunchy and salty.)
- Pea snaps
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruit
- Siggi’s vanilla yogurt (low in sugar!)
- Quest bar (this is packaged, but packs a lot of protein with low sugar, so we are keeping it first tier)
- Chocolate (dark chocolate has some health benefits)
- Sea Salt Caramel Kind bar (low in sugar!)
- Carob chips
- Fruit roll up
Give me chills
- Frozen fruit (grapes, bananas)
- Green smoothie (home made)
- Frozen banana ice cream (mashed bananas that are frozen)
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Enlighten fudge bar
It’s worth noting that if you’re really snacking because you’re just plain hungry, probably protein with a little fat for the win.
- Hard-boiled egg
- Apple (carb) and peanut butter
- Peanut butter and cheese.
Keeping it real
Your answer is…
- Fats, like nuts, and chocolate: 2 tablespoons
- Flax seed chips/mini pretzels: 20
- Cereal: ¼ cup
- Ice cream/fro yo: ¼ cup
- Anything that comes as one serving, like popsicle or Kind bar: 1
I mention the portions for two reasons. First, because we made the assumption that you care about the macros, so you will have to account for your snack. Second, because sitting down with a pint of ice cream or pretzels is not a “snack” most of us will choose to indulge in every day. But if your tastebuds are craving a sweet snack or something salty to munch on, you can have a reasonable amount without destroying your fitness dreams.
All the feelz
*Zenefit (also not a word—but clearly should be)
Eating what you really want, by conscious choice, and in a calm and controlled way, takes some of the artificial value we place on food as being good or bad. No food is inherently good or bad.
Once we take away some of that self-invented value, over time we chip away at its power over us. We can enjoy food for the taste and texture, and we are freer to choose what we want by listening to what we really want.