Committing to eating healthier will never come on its own unless you really set that as a lifestyle goal. Healthy food doesn’t always taste as good as processed food that’s filled with buckets of sugar, so it can be hard to make the switch and deal with cravings. However, it’s not only possible to do, but something that you really should do to better your life, especially if you have children that are learning their eating habits from watching you.
What is healthy food?
Healthy is such a broad and vague term that it doesn’t end up meaning anything at all. If you think of low-calorie as healthy, then you’re not paying attention to the ingredient list and everything that comes with it. “Healthy” is complex, and we need to break it down to three main categories, the first of which is cleanliness. How clean the product list is literally meant how many ingredients it has. If your apple chips have any other ingredient except for apples – why would you be eating it? Remember that all ingredients need to be listed in order of most to least prevalent, so if sugar (or any other sneaky codeword for it) is listed as number one – skip it. Secondly, you want to look at calories to make sure you’re not overstepping daily recommendations, and lastly the macronutrients: how many proteins, fats, and carbs there are in the snack. Remember – carbs aren’t the enemy and you need them for energy, but you don’t want to overdo it.
There is nothing cleaner and more nutritious than good old chopped fruit and veggies. Chopped carrots, celery, bell peppers, snap peas and similar crunchy veggies go great with a dip like hummus. Put a little bit of it in the bottom of a mason jar and then stick in the sliced veggies. It is an amazing and nutrition-packet snack that will keep you full and energized. A fruit option is similar, just make sure you coat the slices in a bit of lemon juice to stop them from browning and replace the hummus with some natural nut butter, or find a health food shop nearby with a great honey selection and get natural honey to dip in for extra energy. The crunchiness of the fruit and veg will mimic the crunch you’d usually crave in chips and crackers, curbing those craving and replacing them with something better.
There’s nothing easier to pack and snack than a trail mix. However, they can be quite expensive and there’s always something in the mix that you don’t particularly like. Go to the bulk bins in your local supermarket and buy everything separately. Go for plenty of seeds and nuts – unsalted is preferred to keep the sodium down – and when you look at dry fruit, try to find some with little or no sugar added (freeze-dried fruit is best for this). If you’re not strict on calories, you can add some dark chocolate or yogurt chips into the mix to make it more interesting. When you get home, make sure you mix it all well and proportion it, because if you just keep a big jar of it on your table, you’ll end up overeating, and then it doesn’t matter how healthy the food is.
If you’re busy and on-the-go, you want something that is easy to eat when you’re en route to your next destination, that doesn’t require two hands and that is small and dense with calories. You can make your own power bars at home with your favorite nut butter of choice, granola or other cereal, fruit, seeds and anything else that gives you energy. Go for a no-bake version to make it even quicker to make, wrap them in individual packets and throw into your bag at the beginning of the day. You can also shape them into little truffle balls to make it even more convenient.
The key to healthy snacking is planning in advance and having something healthy on-hand when the cravings hit so that you’re not tempted to go to a corner store and pick up a candy bar. Use some off time on the weekends to prepare for the next week, so that you don’t have to spend time every morning thinking of and preparing snacks.