Lately it seems like almost all of my patients have been asking for snack ideas. In general, I have a few guidelines regarding snacks. First would be timing. Is the snack in question something that you just need to help you bridge a short gap between breakfast and lunch? Or is it something that will need to hold you over for several hours? Perhaps it is heading into “mini meal” territory, for those days when a sit down meal just isn’t going to cut it.
Of course, if it’s just a small snack to keep you from being ravenous for lunch or dinner, I would suggest picking a carbohydrate and then having it with a protein or a fat. What does that look like? An apple (carb) with a piece of cheddar cheese (pro/fat), pretzels (carb) with hummus (pro/fat), or a handful of trail mix made with nuts (pro/fat) and dried fruit (carb) are all great examples. Basically, the combination of carbohydrate and fat/protein is the best way to fuel your body between meals as it gives you some quick energy (carbs) and some energy that will satisfy you and keep your blood sugar levels steady (fats/proteins).
If a bigger snack is in order, I would recommend having at least a protein, a carbohydrate AND a fat. That could look like a peanut butter and banana sandwich; a homemade pizza bagel made with ½ a bagel, tomato sauce, some shredded mozzarella and perhaps a few slices of pepperoni; or a bowl of oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a sliced banana. The main purpose of the bigger snack is to bridge a larger gap between meals while also making sure you will be hungry for the following meal.
Even if a patient knows that she is hungry for a snack, sometimes figuring out what exactly she is hungry for can be a challenge. In this instance, I would suggest going through a quick list of food qualities to help narrow it down. Am I hungry for something hot or cold or room temperature? Do I want something creamy and soft? Crunchy or hard? Am I in the mood for something savory or sweet or perhaps a mix of the two? Do I want something spicy? Salty? Bland? Sour? Am I hungry for something cheesy? Meaty? Chocolate-y? It may feel a little silly to go through a list like this, but sometimes it can just take a minute or two to figure out what will really hit the spot.
Some more snack ideas:
-cut up vegetables with ranch or bleu cheese dressing
-turkey slices with cheese and some crackers
-pretzels with peanut butter
-animal crackers with Nutella
-yogurt with granola and/or fruit
-1/2 of a turkey or roast beef sandwich
-tortilla chips with guacamole
-hardboiled egg and a piece of fruit