Your Holiday Cheat Sheet: Sensible Snacking Strategies to Eliminate Overeating

By November 20, 2016 No Comments

The holidays present myriad opportunities to eat. And eat a lot. But by strategizing ahead of time and planning small meals and snacks, you can keep hunger at bay and enjoy the holiday party without busting a gut.

Eating high fiber, high protein snacks throughout the day is great party prep. Stay full throughout the day; don’t overeat at the party.

Here come the holidays and eating in moderation can be an enormous challenge when watching our waistlines. From monstrous family meals and dining out with friends, to over the top holiday parties and the constant barrage of cookies, sweets and chocolate treats, the opportunities to eat, both at home and work – and to eat a lot – are everywhere. We would like to offer some perspective real eating during the holidays.

Its starts by selecting simple foods that satisfy your hunger, keep you energized throughout the day, won’t weigh you down, and are a benefit to your health. That’s easier said than done, we know and there are big, less-than-healthful meals looming ahead. Add in a torrent of tantalizing tasty treats along the way and the holiday season can be a major challenge to healthful, mindful eating. One key component is to graze – eat small meals throughout the day – before your big night of binging, to keep your energy up and to avoid arriving at the party totally starved. This game plan will reduce the likelihood of overeating at the party, trying to make up for the day’s lost calories. Today’s food industry offers some startlingly good choices for fun yet healthful eating. But how does one go about selecting foods to add to your holiday “eat right” larder? Start by looking for snack foods that offer enough protein and other nutrients to nourish your body in small portions. That means selecting snacks with at least five grams of protein per serving.

Choose foods with “good,” plant-based fats, that include a mix of monounsaturated fats, such as safflower oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as the oils found in nuts and seeds. Go for snacks with whole grains and vegetables, as fiber helps you feel full. And, of course, keep portions in mind. So, what to eat?

Beans, Baby, BEANS!

Legumes, also known as pulses, are practically the perfect holiday snack food. Packed with protein, fiber and minerals, legumes such as chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lentils, pigeon peas and scarlet runner beans are sure to fill you up quickly without any saturated fat to weigh you down. All that dense nutrition means your body digests legumes slowly, keeping you energized over time and able to steer clear of the dreaded caffeine or sugar crash that has earned sweetened snacks and sugary drinks a certain kind of not-so-nice notoriety.

Hippeas makes organic chickpea puffs in five flavors that somehow capture all the good nutrition of the humble garbanzo bean while tasting as light as air on your tongue. (Yes, there is a Sriracha Sunrise flavor for the heat-seeking.) With three grams of fiber and four grams of protein in a one-ounce serving, this snack is setting the pace for fun, flavorful and better-for-you snacks. Chip maker Protes makes a baked chip entirely of pea protein and safflower oil and little else. With 15 grams of protein per serving, these powerhouse chips stuff half a day’s recommended allowance for protein into one serving. (Nutrition needs vary by individual, please confirm with your doctor.) Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help your body digest.

Crunch your Vegetables

One of 2016’s top food trends is consumers’ desire to add vegetables in snack form to their diets. US snack manufacturer Good Health heard the call and launched a line of veggie snacks in chip form. Made from a mix of vegetables such as broccoli, beets, kale and potato, the chips also build fiber content from red and black beans.

Don’t Forget About Oatmeal

Porridge is having a moment as consumers learn the tremendous benefit of whole grains and their nutritive value to body and soil. Farm To Table Organic Ancient Grain Oatmeal blends are rolled and steel cut oats blended with spelt, Kamut and cracked red wheat for a heartier, thicker, more traditional porridge. By choosing to work with farmers who honor ancient grains, Farm To Table Organic has helped revive heritage crops and reinvest in biodiversity. Their passion for supporting a diverse range of crops also benefits the soil as grains such as buckwheat and barley when grown, harvested and retilled into the soil, help return vital nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil rather than releasing nitrogen as a gas into the atmosphere.

Oatmeal has been a staple breakfast food in the United States for so long (Quaker Oats was founded in 1877) that it is easily overlooked as a beneficial snack food outside of the morning routine. New oatmeal products offer the same beneficial fiber as always but are improved when blended with super seeds and other gluten-free grains. Companies have repackaged these new takes on oats into portion-sized pouches, making them not only convenient but perfectly sized for a meal-snack. Nature’s Path has a line of Qi’a Superfoods, including a host of Hot Oatmeal flavors, including one aptly called, Superseeds & Grains. Boasting the power seed trio of chia, hemp and buckwheat plus six grams protein and four fiber grams, this potent bowl of goodness makes an ideal afternoon snack that will have you swinging into that holiday party sated and energized.

Muesli, a Swiss-style oatmeal made with raw oats and mixed with fruits, seeds and nuts left to soften in milk before eating, is also experiencing a revival. By soaking muesli’s grains in milk, the cereal becomes very creamy and soft. But more importantly, the nutrients in the grains also become more bio-available and are more easily absorbed by the body. Kashi (brought to you by Kellogg) captures the trend of “do it yourself” whole foods and updates muesli with the all-in-one convenient package of Overnight Muesli. With eight grams of protein and nine grams of fiber in a single serving, it knocks the satiety numbers out of the park, making it the perfect meal to balance your nutritional needs and help you arrive at a late party in good form.

Nourish your Inner Child with Alternative Nut Butters

As awareness around nut allergies and other food allergens have grown, so has the market for nut butters beyond traditional peanut butter. Almond, cashew, soy, and macadamia nuts turned into butter are now readily available, giving peanut butter a run for its long-standing market monopoly. At Probar, portion-size packages of several nut butters, some mixed with caffeine for performance, give consumers a healthy dose of five grams of protein and three grams of fiber. And the natural, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in nuts add an extra health benefit in these right-sized servings.

Snack Wisely to Avoid Overeating

Choosing the right snacks to eat more healthfully and stay satisfied throughout the day is easier than ever. Countless options exist for both portion-sized and and meal-sized snacks. A little bit of strategizing before a big night out can mean the difference between a difficult day of rollercoaster binging and bloat to eating right and right-sized snacks throughout the day. During this season of eating, snacking is a must. It’s a win-win for you and your waistline. Don’t bust a gut and snack with intent to bring back your mojo.

If you’d like to share your perspective or discuss ours, please email Peter Allen to schedule a conversation.