Every so often, you need a nutrient-rich snack to tide you over to your next meal. Maybe you grab a few baby carrots or a handful of almonds. These occasional snacks generally aren't a problem. But if you ever find yourself mindlessly munching on chips or polishing off a package of cookies, you may want to think about the why behind your snack choices. One way to do this is to engage in mindful snacking. Keep reading to learn more about this approach to maintaining a balanced diet.
What Is "Mindful Snacking"?
Mindful snacking is an approach that focuses on eating with intention and paying close attention to your snacking behavior. It's about understanding why you're eating, how much you're eating, and how you feel when you eat. And in doing so, mindful eating may allow you to snack without consuming empty calories and feeling guilty about your eating habits afterward. (We’ve all been there.)
One of the most important aspects of mindful snacking is identifying why you want to snack. Are you truly hungry, or are you snacking out of boredom? Do you need energy, or are you snacking to cope with a stressful situation or because it’s simply part of your routine? Figuring out why you want a snack is the key to meeting your needs in the moment and feeling confident in your choices.
Why Is Mindful Snacking Important?
Your body uses blood glucose (blood sugar) as its main source of energy. Because snacking can impact blood glucose levels, it's important to understand how each food affects your blood sugar. People with diabetes and other glucose concerns may also need to eat carbohydrate snacks throughout the day to keep their blood sugar balanced.
In some cases, the timing of a snack is just as important as the foods you choose to snack on. For example, your healthcare provider may tell you to eat a snack at bedtime to prevent your glucose level from plummeting during the night. Since exercise has an effect on blood sugar levels, you may also need to snack before you exercise. Remember that snacking isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to glucose management. Ask your healthcare provider what snacks they encourage based on your activity level, blood sugar patterns, and lifestyle.
Mindful snacking is important because it helps you slow down and really think about what you're eating. When you engage in mindful snacking rather than mindless snacking, you're more aware of how many calories you're consuming and how each food is likely to affect your blood sugar level. Mindful snacking may also help with weight loss, reducing the risk of health conditions that can make it more difficult to keep your glucose levels in check.
Tips for Mindful Snacking
One of the keys to snacking with blood sugar in mind is to focus on fiber rich foods, low-glycemic foods to prevent sudden glucose spikes. Fiber is important because it slows the absorption of sugar from the foods you eat, lessening the impact of a carbohydrate snack on your blood sugar (Learn more about net-carbs here). The glycemic index ranks each food on a scale from 0 to 100, with high numbers used for foods that have the biggest impact on your glucose levels. Low-glycemic foods have less of an impact. Examples of low-GI foods include eggs, broccoli, beef, chickpeas, avocados, and raw carrots.
It's also important to eat snacks containing protein and healthy fats, which slow down digestion and help you feel satisfied with what you're eating. Look for foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. When possible, avoid sugary snacks, as they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar, leaving you feeling sluggish.
Once you have a handle on which foods are best for you, plan your snacks in advance as often as possible. Planning ahead makes it easier to make good choices instead of impulsive ones. While snacking, practice mindful eating. Pay attention to the flavor and texture of each food, think about how each food makes you feel, and keep track of your portion sizes.
The Bottom Line
Mindful snacking gives you more control over what you're eating and when you're eating it. It's also beneficial for balancing your blood sugar levels and improving your overall health. To enjoy the benefits of this approach, experiment with a variety of foods to find out which ones do the best job of helping you feel satisfied without causing rapid spikes in blood sugar. If glucose is on your mind, ask your healthcare provider or a Registered Dietitian to help you build a food plan for your unique needs.
Get started with mindful snacking by including Good Measure Nut Butter Bars into your diet. Made with nutrient-rich ingredients, these almond nut bars and crisps packs are blood-sugar friendly and come in a variety of flavors, from Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate bar to Almond Butter Blueberry bars.