As summertime rolls around I notice a change in the way I want to eat. In the winter months, cozy warming stews and spicy meats and vegetables appeal to me. In the summer, however, I find myself wanting to eat lighter, cooling foods. As a child my mother would often give us a whole peeled cucumber to munch on. Back in the days when bottled water meant what you carried in a thermos, she would take cucumbers on our long car trips and give them to my brother and I when we were thirsty.
Eating seasonally is intuitive for us, if we have the inner ears to hear it. Nutritional theories based on traditional ways of eating, such as Ayuervedic and Macrobiotic diets, although vastly different in many ways, agree on themportance of eating
i seasonally and locally.
Warm weather makes our digestion more sluggish. If you take a tropical vacation in the middle of a cold winter you will find that you will feel much better if you eat the local fruits, fish and vegetables of your tropical retreat. But return to your cold climate and try to continue eating like that and you will find yourself constantly cold and susceptible to infection.
The same holds true with snacking. In the summer sticking to fresh fruits and vegetables with some nuts and seeds tossed in for good fats and protein will keep your energy up and your weight down.
Views on snacking differ. Some feel that snacking is bad and that eating between meals leads to weight gain (Ayuervedic philosophy). Others believe that eating severalsmall healthy meals and snacks throughout the day is optimal for maintaining energy and losing weight (example: South Beach Diet). What works best for you is as individual as you are!
The key to making peace with a snack attack is to understand why you are snacking. For myself, I know that it can be a mixture of things. If I don't eat enough breakfast or skip it all together and then just have a green salad for lunch, by 3:00pm I am reaching for anything edible! I haven't had enough protein and good fats to sustain my body and my energy. If I am stressed about something or trying to avoid starting a task my favorite stall tactic is eating! Daily times of transition (picking up the kids, my husband coming home from work, leaving for an important appointment) can also trigger my snacking. One way I control an oncoming snack attack is to take five minutes to breath and re-focus my attention, and ask myself these four questions:
- Am I really hungry?
- Is this what I feel like eating?
- Is this what I feel like eating now?
- Is there something else I could eat instead?
Asking these questions and keeping healthy foods on hand helps keep my snacking under control and guilt free.
When a snack attack hits you, have foods on hand that are filling and satisfying, but also nutritious. Here are some tips:
- Snack on things that don't come in a plastic wrapper, a box, or out of a vending machine.
- Make your own signature snack like a trail mix, or a fruit or veggie dip that satisfies your particular craving (sweet, sour, spicy, salty).
- If you want something crunchy, upgrade from potato chips to raw carrots, apples or whole grain crackers with a teaspoon (total) of organic nut butter for a dose of good fats and protein.
- If you are craving a candy bar, upgrade to a small handful of nuts and unsulphered dried fruit (dried apples and strawberries have the lowest sugar content)
- Instead of a cup of coffee, upgrade to green tea sweetened with raw honey.
- Ice cream, anyone? Try 1/2 a cup of plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and a swizzle of raw honey.
Upgraded snacks are high in nutrition and give you a greater sense of satiety and satisfaction; you won't feel physically or psychologically deprived, and you'll have plenty of energy to sustain your activities for hours. As always, try to use whole, organic foods or foods grown on small farms for reduced chemical exposure and higher nutritional value.
For some great snack ideas, click here.
If you want to stop or reduce snacking altogether, start by asking yourself the four questions above Also eat enough at meals (especially lunch), keep regular mealtimes, and have foods that contain plenty of whole, unprocessed carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits and a small amount of whole grains) and protein, and don't deprive yourself of good fats like olive, coconut or even (yes!) animal and dairy fat. Also remember to drink plenty of water.
And when you have a snack attack, be ready for it and enjoy it!
Coming in the fall: My new workshop on losing weight by unblocking your creative energy, based on Julia Cameron's book "The Writers Diet" .
Myra Oney is a certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is dedicated to providing information and services to people who are serious about creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She is available to speak and give workshops to community groups and businesses, as well as for individual coaching. For more information go to her website www.MyraOneyHealthCoaching.com or email her at Myra@MyraOneyHealthCoaching.com