Eating healthy and sticking to a calorie count when it comes to meals has been working for me. But lets face it. Sometimes, a snack is just plain necessary. Snacks can help me get from one meal to the other without feeling hungry or grumpy (not that that ever happens lol), but they are also a great incentive or even a wonderful way to reward myself after getting all my steps in for the day, making it through an especially rough Monday, etc.
So, since I'm a huge fan of snacks, I thought I'd share some of my favorites. And if you have some you enjoy, I'd love to hear about them! We can all use more snack ideas.
Snow peas, green beans, bell pepper, radishes, jicama, carrots, celery, cucumber, and more I'm certain I'm not including.
These are all great choices. I like to cut up a bunch at one time and even divide into baggies with the calorie count written on the outside. It makes it easy to grab one when I get hungry or if I'm on my way out of the house.
This is a very low-calorie way to add some flavor to raw vegetables. My favorite is roasted red pepper, but there are flavors ranging from plain to spicy.
Fresh fruit is a wonderful snack and a good way to get a little sugar if you need it. I'm a big fan of dried fruit as well. We almost always have a bag of dried apples and apricots in the pantry as well as raisins.
Another favorite of mine is Stretch Island's fruit leather strips. These are SO good and come in handy packages so you can just throw a few in your backpack or purse. It helps having these when you're out of the house and get hungry.
I've also made my own fruit leather using a dehydrator in the past and it's wonderful. I make a lot of it in the summer and fall, but tend to buy the fruit leather strips in the winter and spring.
Nuts and Seeds:
If you need more calories, nuts are always a great option. Cashews are my personal favorite, but I also like sunflower and pumpkin seeds. There are also almonds, peanuts, etc. There have been times where we've combined nuts and dried fruit to make a great snack mix.
I listed some of my preferences in my breakfast post. But I eat these for snacks, too. Usually 1/2 cup (1/2 of a serving) of cereal, and no milk.
This is one of my favorite snacks. I usually try to go with rice or corn crackers because they taste amazing, they're very light with little to no sugar in them (and sugar is my biggest addiction when it comes to food, so finding something without it that I like is great), and you get a LOT of crackers per serving.
These Good Thins corn crackers are my new obsession. They are so yummy! I could eat these all the time if I let myself. They are super crunchy and perfect for just snacking on, dipping in hummus, or even eating with some meat and cheese as a meal.
This brand also has other flavors. I've tried the rice and they are good as well.
Nut-Thins are another amazing brand. Their rice, almond, and pecan crackers are fantastic.
Another go-to that's easy to take with me anywhere.
Yes, I did say the word. I personally don't think there's a thing wrong with having a little candy as a treat or snack. Especially if you're wanting something sweet as opposed to actually feeling hungry. The fact is, if you completely cut out those sweet treats, you're going to crave them even more.
I'll be honest, I probably have about 200 calories a day that are an indulgence. Not always candy. Sometimes it'll be 4 oz. of some kind of fruit juice in the morning and then another 100-120 calories worth of candy.
If I do have candy on hand, I try to limit it to either a specialty candy that I'll want to make last for a while, like a dark chocolate bar. I personally can't eat a lot of dark chocolate at a time, so I'm perfectly content to eat a square of this at a time.
Or I'll get candy that's wrapped in small pieces. A favorite is Pearson's mint patties. These are 30 calories each, so I can have three of them for less than 100 calories and feel like I had a treat. Or spread them out and have one or two after lunch and dinner.
How about you? Do you have a healthy snack you like to eat?
Breakfast has always been one of my favorite meals of the day. As a kid, I enjoyed eating toast cups (a hole cut out of bread and an egg fried in the middle), cereal, or Cream of Wheat during the week. And I looked forward to the weekend because often my dad would make a big breakfast complete with scrambled or fried eggs, bacon and/or sausage, biscuits or pancakes, and gravy.
Even now, I could take some hashbrowns and an omelette any day. I will say that I rarely have time to make anything in the mornings during the week. But there's something about trying to eat healthy that results in sudden cravings for these big breakfasts. lol
Over the last month and a half, I've tried a variety of approaches to breakfast. For a while, I was skipping them entirely in favor of saving more of my 1,200 calories for lunch or dinner. Which really wasn't too big of a deal because we typically eat lunch just after eleven, and I tried to drink several glasses of water during that time.
But I soon found that, if I tried to get any walking in during the morning, not eating wasn't going to cut it. So I needed some calories to get me going.
My Typical Breakfast Choices
Yes, these are super simple. But making sure I have these things on hand makes a huge difference. I tend to get bored with food easily, so feeling like I have a variety is important.
As a side note, I don't eat the cereal with milk. I like pouring it into a cup and munching on it over time. My grandma gave my husband and I a set of Fiesta ware when we got married. I love the fact that the mugs hold exactly 1 serving of juice or cereal and the little tea cups hold 1/2 serving.
Rice Krispies - 130 calories for 1 1/4 cups
When you're munching on cereal, Rice Krispies can last for a while. If I feel like snacking in the morning, I go with this choice. These have the least amount of sugar, too, which is great.
Multi-Grain Cheerios - 110 calories for 1 cup
These don't have much sugar in them, either. But they are lightly sweetened, are still easy to snack on, but not quite as hard to eat as the Rice Krispies.
Raisin Bran Crunch - 190 calories for 1 cup
This is my favorite cereal. It definitely has more sugar than the other two mentioned, but it's very filling and there's something about the different textures that makes it the most satisfying to eat as well.
Simply Orange Juice - 110 calories for 8 oz.
I've always loved having juice or chocolate milk or something like with breakfast. I don't drink chocolate milk anymore, but we always have orange juice in the fridge.
Cliff Bar - Cool Mint Chocolate - 250 calories for 1 bar
I usually reserve these for days where I know I'll be super busy and having lunch late. For me, that's usually Mondays. I cut this bar into two and eat half of it first thing (for 125 calories) and it helps boost my day. This particular variety of Cliff Bar contains both protein and caffeine. I have also been known to replace lunch with one of these if necessary, though that's pretty rare.
Scrambled Eggs with Bell Peppers and Onions - Approximately 110 calories
At the beginning of the month, I try to buy a bell pepper or two and an onion, chop them up, and put them in a baggy in the freezer. That way, if I have a craving for a nice breakfast, I can stir a few in with a scrambled egg. That's usually enough to make me feel satisfied and go on with my day.
Mix and Match
The beauty about the choices above is that I can mix and match them. It's not unusual for me to have 1/2 cup of Raisin Bran Crunch along with 4 oz. of orange juice. Couple that with several glasses of water and I'm rarely hungry until lunch.
Or, if I'm going to be home all morning and I'm feeling the urge to snack, I'll have 1/2 serving of Rice Krispies, try to get my two miles of walking in (I walk indoors), drink a glass of water, and have 1/2 serving of Raisin Bran Crunch if I'm still hungry.
Do you have a favorite low-calorie breakfast? Share below - I'd love to hear from you!
I shared last week about my goal to eat better and get healthier in 2017. My husband and I have had five weeks to try different things to find out what works best for us. So I thought I'd share a few a few tips that we've found helpful.
Drink a lot of water. Now, for someone like me, it's way easier said than done. But when I focus on drinking water, I'm not nearly as hungry. I also have found that it helps to take large drinks instead of little sips of water. The glass I currently use can hold 16 oz. I try to drink 1/3 to 1/2 of it at a time.
Don't drink your calories. This was another hard one for me. Before December of last year, I loved drinking juices and teas. In Finding Joy, I mention that Chelsea is addicted to blueberry sweet tea and let me tell you, I can say the stuff is good from experience lol. Now, the flavored Texas Teas I did drink are a whole lot better for me than sodas, but still. When you're counting calories and eating 1200 or less per day, I try to keep the sugar drinks to a bare minimum.
Eat your big meal in the middle of the day. We started doing this recently and it's been a great change in our routine for more than one reason. Previously, we'd eat super light all day, knowing that the bulk of our calories would come with the evening meal. That meant we were often hungry through the day and then would end dinner, have quite a few extra calories left over, and then eat a snack afterwards. Now, when we eat our heaviest meal at lunch time, we have way more energy for getting through the day, plus we can balance our calories better. Not only that, but it gives our bodies a chance to digest all of that food during the active part of our day.
Don't eat after 8 p.m. This is another one we've just started doing. We're trying our best to only drink water after eight so that we don't go to bed with full bellies. I'm sleeping better this way because I'm more comfortable, too. Before December, I had a lot of issues with acid reflux at night. I haven't had a single episode of it since we started eating better.
Don't skip breakfast. I typically only eat about 110 calories in the morning, but I find I feel a lot better going into the day when I do.
Have a healthy snack. This is something we do every day. Around 3 or 3:30 we have a snack that's usually 150-200 calories to help us get through the afternoon.
It's okay to have something sweet. Really, it is! But it's all in moderation. We usually try to keep track of our calories and then, after the evening meal, we'll have something sweet. It might be candy, some dried fruit, or slightly sweetened cereal. Most often, it's some form of chocolate. And whatever we eat, it's to cap off the 1200 calories we've got to work with for the day. It also gives us something to look forward to food-wise and a great way to end the day.
I hope you find some of this helpful! Eating better and managing calories is definitely an on-going adventure!
My husband and I have both been unhappy with our weight, energy levels, and health for a while now. We've tried to get better about what we eat and we have made improvements in that area over the last few years. But we knew it would take a major change to our lifestyle that we just never quite implemented.
At the beginning of December, we decided we needed to do something and putting it off clearly wasn't getting us anywhere.
Time to Make a Change
This weekend, it will be four weeks since we made the commitment to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight. We've got goals for ourselves in 2017 and we're well on our way to hitting those goals.
Personally, I'm counting calories each day (staying at 1,200 or less) and making a point to walk at least 3 miles. Some days, I walk as many as 5. They're almost always done inside while I'm reading or watching a TV program, but I'm getting them in! I'm also making some consistent progress towards my target weight.
Not Easy, But Worth It
We've eliminated sodas, most processed sugars, and bread from our diet. Was it easy? Not at all. In fact, the second week, I'm pretty sure I was in a perma-state of grumpiness.
But I almost immediately noticed my constant bloating was gone. The aching in my joints disappeared, too. Four weeks in, I feel SO much better. I've got more energy, I can think more clearly, and I'm enjoying the dried fruits, fresh veggies, and the meat we're eating. It takes less to fill me up and I don't finish my meal feeling heavy.
A nice side benefit? When we do get a small treat (like a cookie or some candy), it actually is a treat because we're only getting it once in a while.
I had a soda for the first time the other day, and I couldn't even drink it. It was so sweet, it was unpleasant. I was thrilled and the need to have another disappeared. Considering I wanted a Coke every day, this is a big accomplisment for me.
Why Am I Sharing This?
Getting healthy and losing weight was something we meant to do for years and just never got around to because it's inconvenient. We didn't make it a priority.
I think that's something that applies to all of us, and not just in the realm of losing weight. It's so easy to procrastinate our way through life, pushing things off until we forget about them.
I'm referring to everything from losing weight, writing that book you've always wanted to, learning how to knit, organizing your photo albums, or getting the education you need to pursue your dream job.
It's Not Too Late
I'm serious about this. It's never too late to stop procrastinating. One of the quotes that struck me the most was this: "A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb.
Isn't that the truth? Sheesh, if I'd started focusing on my own health a year ago, I might be at my target weight now. If I'd kept up with my photo albums way back when, I wouldn't have fourteen years of catching up to do now (And yes, I just ordered the prints for the years 2002-2004).
We can't do everything, but we can do something.
And that's the key. I want to encourage you to choose one thing you've put on the back burner and make it a priority this year. Even baby steps forward are still progress. And if you start now, who knows how far you'll have gone in a year!