Hi everyone, Dr. Junger here.
It’s a few minutes to four o’clock and you feel your energy fading. You start to get irritated. Your mind wanders. The desserts your co-workers brought in are staring you in the face.
This scenario is one version of what I like to call the late afternoon fade out. Your situation may be different, you might be at home, or in the car but the physical and emotional sensations are the same: irritability, tiredness, lack of focus.
My patients tell me that this fade out is when they have the most difficult time eating clean.
That’s why today, I want to give you our Clean Snack Ideas. These snacks are simple, inexpensive, and one of the best ways to keep yourself balanced throughout the day.
The Snacking Dilemma: To Snack or Not to Snack
Before we get to the snack ideas, I want to respond to a question I hear a lot, “Should I snack?”
There is nothing inherently wrong with snacking between meals. Snacking can be healthy if you really need more food, but keep in mind that your desire to eat may not be coming from true hunger. For many of us, we snack because we’re bored, angry, sad, or even dehydrated.
The less conscious we are about why we’re snacking, the more this habit can numb how we really feel. So before you start grabbing snacks, even the clean ones, check-in with yourself and notice what you’re feeling. A short walk and glass of water may also re-energize you and help dissipate the craving.
Remember, the goal isn’t to not snack if you are hungry. Snacking on clean foods can be very helpful in maintaining good energy levels and mood, but make sure you have the right motivation before taking a bite. If you’re doing the Clean Cleanse I recommend that you look even more closely at your snacking habits than usual.
Experiment with Snack Portions and Timing
Sometimes finding the right amount to eat every day takes some personal experimentation. If you notice that you’re regularly hungry at four o’clock and you’ve checked in with your emotional state, then by all means, have a clean snack. By analyzing your hunger, you may realize that you need a larger breakfast or lunch, or more frequent meals throughout the day.
For example, a shake for breakfast and light salad for lunch may not be enough food to keep you feeling your best. This is when a clean snack or more frequent smaller meals can be very helpful to keep you feeling balanced and calm.
Simply waiting too long to eat can cause you to lash out. Hangry, a combination of hungry and angry, was the way we described this feeling last week. If you’re not careful, the hanger can sneak up on you.The key is to eat enough whole clean foods each day so you feel satisfied.
Plan Your Snacks
Planning is an important skill to develop if we want to eat clean more consistently. In a world that’s not always clean-friendly, it takes a conscious decision to make healthy eating a priority.
Without deciding ahead of time how we want to respond to hunger or stress, we may end up reacting to the events of our lives in habitual ways that don’t serve us well. This is especially true when it comes to food. Plan your snacks for the week and have them with you when you are away from home.
Clean Snack Ideas
The Clean Snack templates are some of the most common and simple whole food snack options. They can satisfy sweet and savory cravings as well as cravings for fat and liquids. With a tupperware container and a shaker bottle, all of these snack options can be prepared at home and easily taken with you.
#1 Crackers and Guacamole
Rice or gluten-free crackers dipped in guacamole is a deeply satisfying snack. Healthy fats mixed with salty carbs can quell the hanger quickly.
Tip: To keep your guacamole from going bad, put the avocado pit in it and cover it with plastic so there is no air. You’ll find your guac ready to go for the next day.
#2 Veggies and Hummus
This is a classic healthy snack and for good reason. Watery plant foods like fruit and veggies work well to balance out the richer hummus. If you’re prone to overeating hummus (as many of us are), focus on eating more fruit or veggies.
Tip: Our Clean Cooking Oil guide talked about the health benefits of reducing certain vegetable oils. Hummus companies often use canola, soy, or vegetable oil. Look for no oil or olive oil-based hummus, or make your own.
If eggs are not a toxic trigger for you and you’re not on the Clean Cleanse, hard-boiled eggs can make an excellent clean snack. Eggs are rich in vitamin A, E, D, and B-vitamins, as well as antioxidants and protein. They are easy to take with you but do give off a pungent smell if you eat them in enclosed spaces. Look for pastured eggs. Commercially-raised eggs have been shown to be up to 15X higher in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Tip: Whole Foods Market carried pastured eggs from Vital Farms. You may have a farm near you that has pastured eggs. Check out the list at Eat Wild.
#4 Fruit and Nuts
A snack of fruit and nuts is a great way to satisfy a sweet teeth. Feel free to have more than one piece of fruit. Try one or two bananas with a pear, orange, or berries. Adding a small handful of nuts will help satisfy and slow the release of sugars from the fruit.
Tip: If you’ve never used macadamia nuts as a snack, give them a try. They are very low in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and taste great.
We love our shakes at Clean. Not only does a shake make a great breakfast, it also makes a great snack. Shakes made with a nutritional shake mix or protein powder, healthy fats like coconut milk and avocado, and fresh fruit have everything you need to balance blood sugar and feel great. If you’re not used to a late afternoon shake, we recommend you add it to your snack options.
To your health,