If you are focused on improving your health and wellness, take a closer look at your snacks in between meals. Even if you eat three healthy meals per day, it’s not hard to derail your progress with high calorie, fat and sodium options that taste great, and satisfy your hunger temporarily. But did you know that nutrient deficiency can trigger hunger?
Low Nutrition Warning Signs
The human body will send messages to the brain and communicate hunger if it is dehydrated, or if the food you have eaten is not satisfying nutritional needs. It is tricky because you can eat a large volume of food and still be convinced that you are hungry. The next step is usually to provide your body with more food, which can include processed foods that are very low in nutritional value. You’ve eaten, but your body will not register that it is satisfied, because the quality of food you have chosen is low.
Likewise, many people run their bodies on a state of perpetual dehydration. You think you are drinking enough water, if you count things like coffee or tea, or soft drinks and juices. However, the amount of sodium in many flavored drinks offsets the body’s need for hydration, and do little to replenish the minimum levels of water needed for healthy functioning.
How important is water to your health? Consider that every cell, organ and virtually all metabolic functions within your body require water to process nutrients, discard waste and fight bacteria and viral infections.
Read: “Hydration and Healthy Living: How Much Water Do You Need Daily? When your body is running low on nutrients and proper hydration, you may notice one or more of the following signals:
- Moodiness or irritability.
- Low energy.
- Irregular bowel movements.
- Disproportionate hunger.
- Problems focusing or with cognitive processing.
- Low immune system functioning (you may get sick more often).
If an athlete or someone who is normally very cautious about nutrition and hydration goes even a single day with poor dietary habits, they feel it immediately. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we may have developed a habit of poor nutrition and hydration for years, or even decades, which can hinder our ability to read the signs. Those symptoms may have become what we determine to be our “normal”, without realizing that many of them may be addressed through nutritional changes.
How to Stop Unhealthy Snack Attacks
Part of the reason that we frequently choose unhealthy snacks is due to convenience. Chips and candy, or packaged pastries, donuts or fast-food are all cheap and easy to acquire when we need a meal. They require no meal preparation, but offer no value to our health.
How to Beat the Unhealthy Snack Attack
- Prepare small snacks in portable containers at home. Vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, celery or cherry tomatoes make an antioxidant, fiber and nutritionally rich snack combination, and keep well for 1-3 days in the refrigerator after preparation.
- Explore protein snack packs for grow-up’s. These healthy variations include cheese, dehydrated fruit (i.e., cranberries) and healthy snack nuts like almonds, walnut or pecans for a protein punch to fuel your afternoon.
- Buy three BPA free re-usable water containers, and keep one at home, one at work and one in your bag for on-the-go. Fill and drink healthy no matter where you are, to combat excessive or unhealthy snacking.
- Take a high-quality daily multivitamin to bridge the gap between your dietary nutrition and what you body actually needs for healthy functioning.
If you have some suggestions for healthy snacking, or a nutritionally balanced go-to snack that you love, share and leave us a comment or link below.