Snack Hacks That Work

Snacks seem to confuse and elude us. One of the most popular questions I get is, “What do I eat for snack?” We seem to have these unwritten rules about snacks, and most of them just don’t serve us.

Snacks are small meals, or maybe even the same size portion as your meal. (They can even be a leftover from your meal…more on that later!) There is no specific type of food that denotes a snack – unless you are in the food manufacturing industry. The goal of a snack is to nourish your body with vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients needed for good health throughout the day, to help increase absorption, stabilize blood sugars and decrease the chance of becoming too hungry overeating or making an unnecessary choice at days end.

I will agree that snacks may require some thought for children at school, shuttling from school to sport, anyone on the go, air travel, lack of refrigeration, or anyone accustomed to grabbing something in a package or box to eat in between meals. Sure, there are some times when a self contained snack in a bag is ideal, but that should really be the exception, not the norm, and for THAT, we can have some rules.

HEALTHY, ACCESSIBLE SNACKS include:

  • Bell Pepper sliced into sticks – red, green and yellow
  • Sliced Cucumber, or cucumber salad
  • Piece of fruit like an apple, orange or grapefruit -there are many varietals for experiment!
  • Sliced apple or pear with nut butter
  • Chopped apple with cinnamon
  • Nut and berry “cereal”
  • Trail mix -pre-measured amount to avoid overeating
  • Leftover portion from breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • Sliced hard boiled egg, chicken salad, sweet potato fries (leftover from meals…)
  • Almond milk smoothie with nut butter, cocoa and more…

If you are a growing teenager, or someone who needs a larger snack, choose two from the above list.

NOT THE GO TO, BUT THE WILL DO:

I recently ran into Trader Joe’s to scope out some packaged snacks. I find that while not always ideal, Trader Joe’s has some better options available.

Coconut Crispy Rolls wafer cookies – A small and tasty tube cookie, the ingredients are simple, and seemingly preserved with sugar and salt. The remaining ingredients are coconut milk, tapioca starch, eggs and sesame seeds. There are some health claims to the ingredients (but don’t consider this a health food – still a cookie) B+ (points deducted for minimal processing)

Trader Joe’s Seaweed Snacks

These are, interestingly enough, a fan favorite at my house, and pack and travel well. The ingredients are sea salt and seaweed. Not knowing much about the source of the seaweed, I’ll go with it’s fine until I read otherwise 🙂 Seaweed snacks get an A.

These are, interestingly enough, a fan favorite at my house, and pack and travel well. The ingredients are sea salt and seaweed. Not knowing much about the source of the seaweed, I’ll go with it’s fine until I read otherwise 🙂 Seaweed snacks get an

TJ’s Seasoned Kale Chips

These tasted ok to me, but the kids thought these lacked flavor. Slightly processed and some sugars lands this snack on the go in the B range.

TJ’s Blueberry Almond Peanut Date & Nut Bites

These mini bites were a big hit for taste and the ingredient list consists of ground nuts, seeds, fruits. Minimally processed, but wholesome ingredients earn this an A.

TJ’s Crispy Crunchy Broccoli Florets

Puffed broccoli, rice bran oil and salt combine to make this snack an interesting choice. The broccoli flavor is absolutely present and very strange in dried form. Once ou are over that, this tastes pretty good. Still reviewing rice bran oil, so until further notice this snacks gets a B+ for minimal processing and the unknown possibilities of rice bran oil.

TJ’s Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix

The indgredients are pretty solid here, and do not include any major preservatives. Apple cider vinegar and sea salt likely keep this shelf stable. The taste is fine, but we all decided that creating our own banana and chip mix was more flavorful. This is a reasonable choice that comes in at A-, points off for minimal processing.

Hu Chocolates

Not at Trader Joe’s, but worthy of a mention, the Hu choclates are well sourced, vegan non dairy dark chocolates. I’ve had a few different, and my favorite remains Cashew Butter with Vanilla Bean and Dark Chocolate. I love them not only for their tag line of “IT’S TIME TO GET BACK TO THE WAY HUMAN’S ATE BEFORE INDUSTRY RUINED THE FOOD”, but also their practices. The products are made with organic ingredients wherever possible, fair trade chocolate, and do NOT include refined sugars, dairy, soy lecithin, palm oil, cane sugar, sugar alcohols, vanilla extract or emulsifiers. Wow! But, what does it taste like?? I haven’t eaten them all, but I can vouch for the cashew butter! This is a chocolate and not a healthy snack , but considering the category A- (points deducted as there is no way a dairy free chocolate can measure against say a European handcrafted chocolate!)

Remember that wholesome foods are always the best choices, but in a pinch, you can still make better choices than your average processed snack!

Happy snacking!

Bye-Bye Back Boobs

“Mom, you lost your back boobs.” I can still remember hugging the hubby in a tank top when my girls made the announcement at dinner. My back wavered between a B and C-cup for nearly 3 decades of my life. So, how did I get rid of my back fat in my 40’s? I did a million toning classes…just kidding. Did I get cool-sculpting at a Medispa? Nope. Actually, I lost my back fat when I quit the the gym and stopped dieting. That’s right, I lost my back fat by cutting down my fitness classes and eating more food!

Let’s focus on the myths associated with getting rid of body-fat.

Getting toned is a made up phrase. There is no class that will tone your muscles. Burning fat and increasing muscle requires a holistic approach to fitness.

Spot training doesn’t work. One million lat pull downs will not get rid of your C-cup back boobs. 1200 tricep extensions will not get rid of batwing arms. Six millions sit-ups will not get you a 6 pack…but it could get you a trip to the hospital with a possible muscle strain.

You can not burn the fat off your body by cutting calories and adding more cardio. I am convinced that formula was the reason why I gained 40 pounds in my 20’s and basically hovered around that weight until I hit my 40’s and I lost 40 pounds. Overrestricting the amount of calories the body gets and increasing the amount of energy production usually sends the body into survival conservation mode, aka: not burning calories.

Hormonal shifts related to our age are not the reason we put on fat. This can signal our bodies WHERE to put the fat, but we are in control of the calorie surplus. However, years of engrained beliefs, dieting and poor habits can wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolic rate. The fountain of youth is real and comes from a healthy lifestyle.

THree best ways to get rid of back fat

Posture

Grab a bag of sugar (I know it will be hard to find in your kitchen) and sit it on the counter. Now, gently pull up on that bag of sugar and notice the difference. Does that bag look thinner? Bad posture can add the appearance of 15 pounds of fat in a second. Focus on improving core muscles and fix the posture muscles that are going slack with too much computer and phone time. Functional training, yoga and pilates are the best ways to support good posture. This is one of the fastest ways to see immediate results while having the additional benefit of helping with injury prevention.

HIIT Workouts

Tons of cardio will only add stress to your already stressful life. I was teaching a spin class, going for run, and teaching another spin class when my 39 year old photo was taken. I would keep my calories close to 1200 just to be in a calories deficit. I was always taught a 500 calorie deficit meant one pound a week of weight loss. Too many workouts without proper nutrition actually causes weight gain. Use targeted HIIT workouts (25 minute high intensity interval training) to challenge your body and maximize your time and effort.

Eliminate sugar

Don’t track another calorie if you want to lose fat! Our bodies need calories for energy. Limiting those calories can be dangerous to our metabolism. And sure, not all calories are created equal. Our body does not need the amount of sugar that is in average meal or drink. For example, a Chai Latte at Starbucks has 56 grams of sugar. This is too much sugar for anyone in a single day. It’s even scarier that many of us consider that Chai Latte a healthy cup of tea. Tracking and eliminating sugars is only a piece of the puzzle. Be careful when it comes to following grams of sugar on a meal-tracking app. Artificial sweeteners don’t show up on those apps which can be deceiving. Artificial sweeteners need to be managed for many reasons. I lost 5 pounds in one week when I gave up all artificial sweeteners.

Research shows that consuming artificial sweeteners leads to over-consuming calories from other sources. Leading the brain to think it is getting sugar, and then not handing it over creates a sugar seeking brain and an unsatisfied appetite. Adapting your tastebuds to less sweet flavors doesn’t truly take that long, and is healthier in the long run over artificial sweeteners – all artificial sweeteners. Even the ones from plants. Years ago, I would say that artificial sweeteners should only be used in the event someone could not manage blood sugars, in the case of diabetes (which is why these sugars evolved) but research, science and the nutrition environment has changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and I say without hesitation, that no one needs to be consuming an artificial sweetener. Work to get sugar out of your routine, and then once in awhile is fine. Some folks do not manage that reintroduction well and may need years of sugar free life before reintroducing it to be successful, but it is possible.

Anne Rollins MS CSSD RD LDN

Final thoughts

There is no quick fix when it comes to fat loss. Successful long term fat loss requires changing habits. The hardest part of changing habits is getting into the rhythm of success. Find a plan that works and stay accountable.

embody The Lifestyle.

Staying injury free after forty

“My back hurts. I need to take time off from the program.”

“I can’t run because of I have degenerative disc disease.”

“I have to put my membership on hold because I need to get an MRI.”

We built embody for these exact reasons, to help heal, and yet people want to put their membership on hold when they have pain. Should an injury create opportunity to revert to unhealthy habits. If your pain improves with wine and cheese while you watch Netflix, please let us know because we want to meet your doctor. We all want the same prescription.

As active fitness professionals finishing up our forty’s we have a unique perspective on living in pain. Personally we are never injury-free. A trip over an aggressive pine cone can lead to a knee injury which would derail most runners. A muscular imbalance that causes debilitating back pain might send most people to an MRI . How do we continue to train for our first 50 miler? We have the secret to feeling great in your forties and beyond.

You will get hurt.

The first moments, hours and days after an injury are important and what you do in that time can seriously impact the outcome. Keeping a sprained ankle totally immobile will absolutely prevent the sprain from getting worse. However, this will also likely lengthen the recovery period significantly. Ibuprofen, while decreasing the pain, will not allow you to know what a safe range of motion is for your injury.  If you can tolerate the pain, avoid the ibuprofen.   We are not fans of liberal pharmaceutical use, but take meds when it’s necessary.  But before we drive to a pharmacy we usually make an acupressure appointment for some much needed body work .

Pain is part of life.

Knowing the early warning signs of a strained muscle can be the difference between no injury and a MCL tear that sidelines you for weeks, months, or a lifetime. That little twinge when you go downstairs is something. Listen to your body. While the twinge is not likely serious, it is your advance warning signal that something is out of balance.

Understand the diagnosis.

A diagnosis is not a reason to get unhealthy. Most people over 40 have degenerative disc disease. If you start poking around with imaging you will find something. Understanding the source of pain is a reason to design a healing plan. Anything involving the spine is scary, and a disc disease sounds horrifying, but not moving will decondition your muscles, decrease your balance and increase the likelihood of a fall.

Nutrition

What you put into your body can greatly impact your outcome, as well. We have had, and seen many people with, significant injuries and one of the most important points to stress is nutrition. Eliminate inflammatory, increase anti-inflammatory foods. If you think that there is not connection, simply ask anyone who has followed an anti-inflammatory diet when injured. We are not sure why people think they can put a medicine into their bodies to be digested, metabolized and be delivered to an injury site in their bodies, but that foods would be handled differently.

Of course there will be an injury that requires rest, but pain or injuring yourself is not a reason to not get healthy. We have a unique perspective as wellness coaches completing our forties. Be an active participant in your recovery, and we guarantee the recovery goes faster. We are not special because we stayed fit in our forties.

“I hurt my knee. My physical therapist told me take time off from the program.” Statements like this are commonplace, and unfortunately, understandable. No one wants to be responsible for someone making an injury worse which could happen if you overexert an injury, even stretching it too far. So while, stretching and mild movement is great for an injury, there is too much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation for a medical professional to give that advice. The safe answer is to rest and take ibuprofen. While this answer isn’t wrong, it’s not right.

Check in for guidance with a licensed professional and see if someone can explain what might be some safe movements for you to do instead of keeping the area immobile and stiff. Don’t limit your focus to just the injury because spot healing(intense focusing on managing the pain without focusing on the entire body) will just lead to more injuries. Heal the entire body with fitness, nutrition and restoration.

Sure there are some injuries, that usually involve broken bones, that require stability, but most muscles, ligaments or tendons would appreciate some TLC.

embody includes an intense restorative program for a reason. Take advantage of the embody 30 minute Stretch and Core Class. Enjoy a special Spa Yoga Class. Commit to balance with Tai Chi in the fall. Don’t miss a functional training session. Finally, food is medicine! Nothing heals like a healthy lifestyle.

Yours in health,

Anne and Nicole