An apple a day is a wonderful thing, but it becomes even better when it is paired with a healthy fat or lean protein, think peanut butter or cheese. Balancing snacks efficiency and including them daily is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Including balanced snacks leads to increased feelings of fullness, and often less overeating.
Understanding how to balance snacks comes down to blood sugar. Blood sugar is a measurement of the amount of sugar, glucose, in the blood. Blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day depending on what you eat and your physical activity level. Blood sugar should not be too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). If blood sugar remains elevated it can lead to a number of metabolic diseases, including diabetes. When blood sugar is high the body secretes a hormone called Insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas in response to increases in blood sugar and signals the body’s cells to take sugar out of the blood. Insulin tells the body to store this extra glucose as fat and inhibits the breakdown of fat stores.
Blood sugar responses vary based on the type of food eaten. Keeping a healthy and steady blood sugar can help manage weight, reduce metabolic disease risk and increase energy levels.
Preventing extreme blood sugar fluctuations is ideal.
You never want your blood sugar to go to low (think shaky, starving) or to high (think Thanksgiving full). When you are “shaky starving low,” it can be difficult to make a healthy food decision; a donut looks much more appealing to your brain as an instant source of immediate nourishment than a chickpea salad. Alternatively, you want to limit feelings of uncomfortable “thanksgiving fullness.” Extreme fullness can be just as undesirable as extreme hunger. Extreme fullness can lead to blood sugar spikes, followed by insulin secretion and fat storage. Further, blood sugar spikes and fluctuations make it hard to get your blood sugar back to a healthy and steady level.
One of the best way to prevent extreme blood sugar fluctuations is to include healthy and well-balanced snacks between meals. Here are some ideas to get you started!
5 Healthy snack combinations:
8 Whole grain crackers with 2-3 oz cheese
Sliced banana with 6 oz Greek yogurt
Trailmix: ¼ cup dried fruit, ¼ cup of sunflower seeds
1 slice of whole grain bread with walnut butter
10 grapes and ¼ cup of hummus
Skylar’s Bottoms Line: Never exceed 3-4 hours while awake between meals and snacks. By keeping healthy snacks on you and available to prevent episodes of extreme hunger, subsequent overeating and extreme fullness.