Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Help for the Hungry

What time of day does it hit you? "I'm hungry! And it's not time to eat."
Sometimes you are really hearing your stomach growl, and other times you might be stressed or bored. Nevertheless, the part of your brain screaming, "FEED ME!" is bound and determined to win over the sensible side of you, whispering, "it's not really time to eat right now, though".

So what can you do? Be prepared! Have lots of healthy options where you can access them easily. Do not eat the first thing you think of (candy bar, potato chips 'since there's a vending machine just down the hall') or the first thing that comes along (cake someone hands you during an office party, cinnabons and cookies that smell good and seem like a good idea 'as long as you are in the mall anyway'). If you don't have access to fresh fruit or vegetables or a 90 calorie yogurt (and you should definitely have these with you if you are near a refrigerator) here are some items that will keep just about anywhere, and keep away the hunger.

1. I have a few boxes of 100 Calorie snacks in the trunk of my car. Not just so I can eat them on the road, but so if I'm running off somewhere where I know I'll be stuck for a while (on a train, in a waiting room, in the airport) I can grab the box right out of my car on the way, even if I hadn't planned far enough ahead to buy a box at the grocery store. The hostess mini muffins are great, as are animal crackers, wheat thins, and nutter butter cookies. Some of the 100 calorie treats are handfuls of what amount to chocolate candy--not enough to tide you over for more than 10 minutes after you finish the bag. Look for items that have more content in the bag, either by weight or by volume. You want a dense hundred calories.

2. Another favorite to keep in your car or office are granola-type bars. Here's my favorite, but they also have varieties with different nuts, or without nuts. They are great to take on hikes and bike rides too, as they are light, but filling. Most have under 150 calories.
Quaker makes good-tasting bars, too. Nutrigrain bars are great if you like a more cookie-tasting snack as opposed to salty and crunchy. My new favorites are Newtons Fruit Crisps--only 100 Calories for the 2 bars in the bag, and they come in mixed berry or cinnamon apple-- yum!

3. In the evening if you get the munchies while watching TV, you can easily consume hundreds of calories over the time it takes to watch a sitcom, let alone an entire movie. That's just a frightening thought. Make those calories last by eating popcorn. Not the kind with butter and not the entire big bag. Several brands make 100 calorie microwave bags now so we can do the right thing!

Find packaged items you like: in addition to the above suggestions, they can be the packages of four or six peanut butter cheese crackers or cheese-on-wheat crackers; energy bars; or small portions of dried fruit and nuts. Stick to those that have less than 150 or 200 calories if you are watching your weight, and only have one serving per day. Don't give in to the temptation of visiting the snack cart for a candy bar that will cost you over 200 calories and give you little in the way of nutrition. Don't break down and drive through a fast food window where you could gulp down a thousand calories because you didn't have anything healthier available. Be prepared and eat something your body, and your mind, will thank you for later!

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