Without a doubt, there is one rule in nutrition that always stays the same – If we are not prepared, it is much easier to make poor choices. We can thank our blood sugar levels for that! When we go too long without eating, we experience the mood that our friends and family members dread most – HANGRY!
When our blood sugar drops too low we get moody, short-tempered and are more likely to overeat, eat too quickly, or make poor food choices.
One of the best things you can do for your health is focus on improving your sugar handling, or your ability to maintain more stable blood sugar levels through the day. This will improve your sleep pattern, moods, decrease headaches, improve energy levels, increase sex drive, help to balance hormone issues and more!
Here are a few ways to start making an improvement in your sugar handling:
Avoid refined carbohydrates: Even if you are staying away from most sugar products, refined carbohydrates like breads, crackers, bagels, pasta and other processed grains have a negative effect on your blood sugar. Your body responds to these carbs just as if they were the same as a bowl of sugar. After eating these, you will have a spike in blood sugar, followed by a crash which results in you searching for another sugary/carby snack to help stabilize your blood sugar once again. It’s a vicious cycle that takes a toll on your system!
Eat the right carbs: Don’t avoid carbs! Most people have come to think that carbs are the enemy – and you’re right, the WRONG carbs like mentioned above are! But your body NEEDS carbohydrates, especially for proper thyroid function (your thyroid regulates tons of metabolic functions in your body!). Eat whole food, nutrient-dense carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, winter squashes, lots of veggies such as carrots, beets, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, kale, swiss chard and more!
Eat every 2-3 hours: Letting our body go too long without nutrients hurts us. While working on improving sugar handling, it’s important to keep our blood sugar levels as stable as possible, which means fueling ourselves with good proteins/fats/carbs through the day. Aim for 3 solid meals and 2 snacks.
Now, eating every 2-3 hours brings us back to being prepared! We live very hectic lives and spend most of our time on-the-go. This makes it very difficult to plan and be prepared to eat so often. While I try to eat real, nutrient-dense whole foods most of the time, there is definitely a time and a place for packaged foods! Throwing a few of the right packaged foods in your car/purse/desk can help to keep you feeling good, avoid that dreaded hangry feeling and have you on your way to improved sugar handling. Here are some of the packaged snacks I would recommend that stay in line with a healthy diet.
My Favorite On-The-Go Packaged Snacks
Bars are pretty much the simplest and easiest on-the-go snack to have on hand. Once I find a bar that I like, I usually buy it by the box to save a few $$$. It’s also a great way to always have something available to you.
Other Easy Snacks:
Bars can get boring, especially if you’re eating the same ones over and over. These are some fun snack packs to mix things up a bit that are great for on the run.
- Nick’s Sticks
- Oloves Olive Snack Packs
- Justin’s Almond Butter Squeeze
- Artisana Coconut Butter Packs
- Paleo Angel Power Balls
- Steve’s Paleo Berky
- Nativas Naturals Power Snacks
Best Chip Options:
Chips are not always the best option as they are usually carb-heavy, but people always ask which ones are okay to eat, so I figured I’d include them on here. Snacking is done better with a heavier emphasis on proteins & fats to keep us satiated, so if snacking on chips, having some protein or fat on the side can help avoid the blood sugar roller coaster. Keep in mind with chips, it is very easy to overeat, so I recommend checking the serving size on the packages and pre-portioning the bags out into individual plastic snack bags or containers.
- Inka Plantain Chips
- Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips
- Artisan Tropic Chips
- Made in Nature Coconut Chips
- Pork Clouds
Best Online Resources for Snacks & Pantry Items:
Finding healthy snacks can be a daunting task. I find it best to order them online, in bulk, if possible. This saves time and money, keeping you right on track with your healthy lifestyle. These are some of the sites that have the best deals on some of the items listed.
I hope you enjoyed this list and find the resources useful in your pursuit of health!
Jessica Sullivan, LMSW, NTP, DBTC