I have four important questions for you to chew on. Are you the spending queen at the vending machine? Does your soft drink consumption make you the new king of pop? Does that knickknack in your lunch sack give the scale a comeback? Are you a “see food” lover that may or may not like fish? If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, you are under a snack attack and it’s time to fight back!
A snack is usually a small meal eaten because you did not have a plan.
I must tell you up front that snacking between meals is not good for you! Every time you eat, or even chew gum or candy, your stomach makes more acid. As this acid irritates the stomach, you get ulcers and gastritis. When the pressure builds up in the stomach and some of the acid goes backward up the esophagus, you have heartburn. When the stomach acid irritates the stomach, the wavelike motion that keeps the food moving slows down. This leads to constipation.
Snacking also causes dental plaque and depression. You should chew on that thought. That’s right! Sugar consumption leads to tooth decay and depression. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar, and excessive sugar eventually causes low blood sugar, a condition directly linked to depression. The point is that there’s always a payback for your unhealthy snack.
Fight back the snack
How do we fight back? If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Here are some tips to develop your own plan of attack:
- B Don’t snack between meals. Instead, replace one of your meals with a snack. Space meals 5 hours apart and eat a snack instead of a meal.
- A fruit smoothie with some added superfood makes a very healthy snack. You can make it at home in your blender by blending fresh or frozen fruit, a little pineapple or other fruit juice, some raw nuts and a superfood green powder from the health food store or an online vendor. I use the Times of Refreshing AAA Supertonic found at www.torwm.org. This can be drunk before a morning walk and you can still have breakfast when you get back. For one day excursions, smoothies are a great travel snack.
- Ease a sweet trail mix into your children’s diet. You can buy them or make your own. The raisins or date pieces provide sweet truth for their sweet tooth. Trail mixes go well with smoothies and popcorn. These also are great travel buddies and can be purchased in many travel venues.
- Speaking of popcorn, invest in an inexpensive air popper. You will have to drizzle a little olive oil on it after it is popped to make salt and seasonings stick, but it is healthier than potato or corn chips that have been deep fried in oil. Your children will love it. You can make it taste like butter popcorn by adding nutritional yeast flakes. Yummy to the tummy and easy to travel with, though a bit bulky.
- Plan your meals around a whole grain. When you eat brown rice or millet, the meal sticks to the ribs. A satisfied stomach is the greatest safeguard against the temptation to snack.
- Combine healthy snacks into an enjoyable meal that even your children will love. Using what we have already learned, you can have a smoothie, trail mix and popcorn as one healthy meal of snacks.
- Try my favorite desert snack called Carob Clusters. They are much healthier than chocolate and better tasting. You do have to keep them somewhat cool or they will melt.
Mix together all the following ingredients together and form small balls. Place on parchment paper and cool in the refrigerator.
1 cup carob chips (preferably sweetened with barley malt)
½ cup almond butter or other nut butter
½ cup your favorite nuts, chopped
•Add a sprinkling of crispy rice cereal.
You will have much to snicker about. The almond will bring joy, and you will like it, whether or not you feel like a nut! Let’s get back on track and give the unhealthy snack a counterattack.
Shelem Flemons is the director and chaplain of Times of Refreshing Wellness Retreat.