Hungry? Don’t Grab a Snickers.

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Contrary to the popular candy bar phrase, it is not a smart idea to reach for the sweet treat when finding your self in a moment of hunger. What makes me so sure? Why science and personal experience of course.

It happens all too often: its 3:00 in the afternoon and you hear your stomach grumble and feel the hunger cramps coming on. The little monster in your tummy has started pounding on the walls again, crying out for some grub. Lunch seems like ages ago and you know it will be a good 3, 4 hours until dinner is on the table. You’re feeling faint and you know you need some more energy to fuel your mind and body in order to be of any good to anyone, much less yourself. It’s time for that afternoon snack!

As tempting as it might be to stop by the receptionist’s desk for some Hersey’s Kisses, or reach into the back of your pantry for a few Girl Scout cookies, those snacks are like a cheap date: they appear initially attractive and desirable, but leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled. Don’t do it!

Did you know that foods such as candies, cakes, white bread, white pasta, sodas, fruit juice high in sugar, and processed foods from vending machines are largely made up of simple sugar which has little nutritional value? Simple sugars are often unnatural sugars, or refined and processed sugars, which give your blood a quick spike in its sugar level, or insulin level, tricking you into thinking you are energized and fueled. The problem with simple sugar is that it does not take the body as long to digest or break down, which leaves you feeling hungry again after a short period of time. The sugar can often cause headaches, an upset stomach, and feeling drowsy and sluggish.

So if you shouldn’t turn to Little Debbie, who should you turn to? I’m so glad you asked!

Try turning to Mother Earth, for her natural foods full of nutritional value and complex carbohydrates. I promise it’s not as bland as it sounds. And you can trust me on this one, because your girl loves some good, tasty food. I’ve never been one for rabbit food. ::Insert middle school photo here:: Case closed.

“Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion. They help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal (howtothinkthin.com).” Also, the higher the amount of protein in your snack, the longer you will stay full. Don’t be put off by the amount of natural fat in foods such as peanut butter, mixed nuts, or cheeses. These fats are “good fats” and can provide your body with just the energy you need.

Here are a few suggestions from Mother Earth’s menu:

– Nuts: peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc

– Cheese: string cheese, cottage cheese, Laughing Cow cheese (serving size is usually about 3 oz)

– Peanut Butter

– Chicken, or any other lean meats

– Whole wheat/grain/oat bread

– Brown rice

– Yogurt: look for a brand high in protein

– Veggies

– Protein bars

I’ve been learning there are many ways to “spice” up morning and afternoon snacks so that they not only make me feel physically more alert and satisfied, but they are tasty too! As tempting as the Snicker bar may seem in the afternoon, think how it will make your body feel after the first 10 minutes, and plan ahead by stocking your fridge/lunch box with healthy options. I promise you won’t regret it.

Save the candy bar for a special treat on Easter, and that chocolate will taste even better! You haven’t forgotten about my Cadbury Eggs, right mom?