By mid-morning, or mid-afternoon, on any given day, each one of us is minutes away from plummeting blood sugar — causing us to become hangry and unfocused. Breakfast got skipped, some unforeseen emergency popped up forcing you to work through lunch; nutrition became the last thing on your mind. Suddenly, if you don’t eat something (anything!), you will literally come to a screeching halt.
In a perfect world, the antidote for being famished would be tucked away in a purse, pocket or backpack. An avocado, organic apple; maybe a baggie with walnuts, almonds or Brazil nuts; a couple of clementines, a hard boiled egg or a container of fresh blueberries would come to your aid. In the real world, survival of the fittest depends on navigating the mini-mart, CVS, grocery store or Trader Joe’s, with the foraging skills of a nutrition hunter.
The trick to keeping your superpowers in peak form is to avoid pre-packaged snacks that trigger the biggest surge in blood sugar; that means anything made with refined flour (breads & cereals); starches like potatoes, corn and rice; and, most dangerous of all, liquid carbs like soda, sugary or artificially enhanced drinks, and fruit juices. The best prepackaged snacks will be high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium, have beneficial healthy fats and pack a protein punch. Armed with this information, you can find healthy-ish prepackaged snacks just about anywhere.
Crunchy Chick Peas:
When you want something crunchy, salty and health-friendly, reach for high fiber, high protein, crunchy chick peas. You can find packages of crunchy chick peas in most grocery and health food stores. Look in the international food section or with the snacks.
- Chick peas are a legume that are an excellent source of cardio protective fiber (soluble and insoluble). Fiber makes you feel fuller, helps to lower blood cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and aids in digestion. 1/4 cup has 5 grams of dietary fiber and 130 calories.
- High in protein. 1/4 cup of crunchy chick peas has 6 grams of protein.
- Good for your bones, chick peas contain the minerals folate, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphate, zinc, manganese and vitamin K. All important for bone structure and strength.
Organic Cheese Sticks:
I know some people want to avoid dairy, but organic, non GMO cheese sticks are simply a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Easy to find and tasty to eat, cheese sticks help to dispel that hangry feeling for only 80-100 calories a stick and are packed with 8 grams of protein. A solid choice when foraging for pre-packaged snacks.
- Dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Protein helps to satiate hunger and build strong muscles. Calcium is a essential mineral for bone strength as well as muscle and nerve function.
- Cheese sticks have a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is an important nutrient for bone health and key in the absorption of calcium.
- Added benefit, the fat in cheese sticks helps you to feel full longer!
Chia Seed Pudding or Squeeze:
Chia seeds are the tiny wonders of nutrition. Inexpensive, high in omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber and filled with protein, they are a versatile source of vegetable protein and fats. Most grocery stores carry chia seed pudding in the refrigerated section near the yogurts (comes with a little spoon for easy eating). You can even get Chia Squeeze, a chia pudding that requires no refrigeration; and you eat it like Popeye squeezing spinach out of a can!
- Amazingly high in omega-3 fatty acids — 1200mg per Chia Squeeze.
- Low in calories, 80-100 per chia pudding or squeeze.
- High in protein, 2g per tbsp.
- Vegan and gluten free
- Delivers a massive amount of nutrients and fiber for very few calories.
Unsalted Raw Pistachios & Almonds:
I happened to be in CVS and checked to see what prepackaged, healthy-ish foods they carried, and found this gem. We all know that there are many benefits associated with almonds, and other nuts with brain boosting omega-3s, but did you know pistachios bring overall health benefits to the party, too?
- Pistachios help improve the nervous system with vitamin B6.
- Pistachios contain a lower calorie content than other nuts, but have a higher protein content.
- Pistachios have one of the lowest fat contents compared to other nuts, and are an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
- A combination of raw pistachios and almonds will fill you up with fiber and healthy fats, while bringing blood sugar into check and boosting the brain with omega-3 fatty acids and B6.
This might be my absolute favorite healthy drink. Most of our food is homogenized, pasteurized, irradiated and processed; thereby, removing almost all of the beneficial healthy bacteria before it can get in to our digestive system and power up our immune health. The Standard American Diet ( SAD) is woefully low in important dietary fiber. Fiber is key for proper digestion, and prebiotic fiber is necessary for probiotic benefit, as it serves as the foundation for the gut biome. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is low in calories, low in sugar, high in probiotics and delicious. Widely available, it is one of the best way to get refreshed and improve your health at the same time.
- Recharges your body with beneficial polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that work as antioxidants to protect the body.
- Contains electrolytes which improve blood acidity (pH), muscle function and hydration.
- Fermented foods are the cornerstone of a healthy immune system
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds:
This is only if you are having a serious chocolate emergency. 13 dark chocolate covered almonds are better for you than a Snickers Bar. There are only 210 calories and 14 grams of sugar in those chocolate almonds, and if it satisfies your sweet tooth, than go for it to prevent a sugary disaster!
The best advice I can give you is to become a label reader. If there are more than 10 ingredients, you are probably in trouble. If the amount of sugar is above 10g, you are getting close to trouble. If you don’t know what most of the ingredients are, you are definitely in trouble. If it is contains gluten, you are in a world of trouble. The name of the pre-packaged snack game is to look for protein, healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients. Most importantly, avoid ingredients that cause inflammation in the body — artificial ingredients, added sweetners (think high fructose corn syrup), and sodium.
Healthy is possible even under dire circumstances.
Eat Well. Be Well.