Before I’ve even begun, I’ve got a disclaimer for you. There’s no hard and fast rule that says snacking is either “good” or “bad” for you. Some fibromyalgia folks may need a pick-me-up here and there, while others refrain from eating anything between meals.
Maintaining sustained energy throughout the day is important for everyone, but especially for those of us with chronic health challenges. If we wait too long between meals, we may experience a drop in blood sugar that causes us to not feel well – besides the tendency to overeat at the next meal. Conversely, if we eat too often, we lose the ability to sense when we’re truly hungry. This sets us up for failure where weight management issues are concerned.
What is clear is that mindless snacking (grabbing something to nibble on out of boredom, habit, emotional void, or any other non-hunger-related reason) can quickly sabotage even the most fervent health goals.
But, whether snacking is a daily thing or a now and then thing, it’s a good idea to be able to reference a handy list of healthy snack options. You know your own metabolism needs, so you get to decide what’s best for you.
Here are a few ways that snacks can be a part of a comprehensive healthy meal plan:
You’re out running errands and won’t be home at a regular meal-time.
You’re not very hungry and would prefer a snack to a full meal.
You need to pack snacks for work or school.
You need to pack snacks for you or your family while out at sporting events.
You need snack ideas for camping, family picnics, or outings at the beach.
You have a high metabolism and need snack ideas for a mid-afternoon boost.
You don’t have time for a meal and need to grab something quickly.
The following ideas are sure to get your creative juices flowing!
Quick & Easy Snacks
Hardboiled Eggs: Eat plain with a little sea salt, or try adding a dash of paprika or a spoonful of guacamole.
Nuts: Raw, when possible – choose almonds, walnuts, macadamias, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, etc.
Seeds: Raw, when possible – try sunflower, pepitas (pumpkin), chia, hemp, ground flax, etc.
Crudités and Handy Veggies: Carrots, celery, cucumbers, jicama, snap peas, peppers cut into strips, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.
Fruits: Apples, pears, peaches, oranges, tangerines, grapes, melons, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, kiwi, etc.
Frozen Fruit Treats: Try frozen grapes, blueberries, sliced strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peach chunks, mango chunks, etc. Eat them as is, or add to salads, smoothies, or nut mixes.
Olives: Look for varieties with as few ingredients as possible. The healthy fats in olives can help you to feel sustained energy as well as feeling fuller, longer.
Pickles: Choose homemade varieties or those with natural and recognizable ingredients.
Tuna or Sardines: Canned or packaged – read the label for wild-caught and environmentally-friendly varieties
Veggie, Lentil, or Bean Soups: By the cup or thermos, why not?
Simple Combo Snacks
Kale Chips: Drizzle shredded kale with Healthy Oil and bake until crisp. Season as desired.
Cucumbers: Slice as desired and add sea salt, and a few sprinkles of apple cider vinegar (adjust to taste). Garnish with fresh mint if available.
Apples/Pears: Select crisp varieties, slice and top with almond butter, sunflower seeds, grapes, raisins, etc.
Apples/Pears: Slice any variety and drizzle with raw, organic honey (or coconut cream) and a dusting of cinnamon.
Healthy Wraps: Choose options such as coconut or egg wraps – you can also use large leaf greens as wraps such as leaf lettuce, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, etc. Try spreading hummus, avocado, or salsa on the wrap and then add your favorite greens, sprouts, veggies, beans, or meats. Roll up and enjoy! Don’t be afraid to roll up fruits as well into healthy wraps. Fruits go well with avocado.
Almond Butter: (Or cashew butter, or other healthy nut butters.) Lip-smacking good right off the spoon, or you can add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, shredded coconut, raw organic honey, raw cacao nibs, protein powder, etc.
Almond Butter: Spread on crudités such as celery, jicama, or cucumbers. Top with seeds or dried fruits if desired.
Veggies and Hummus: Dip sliced or shredded veggies in creamy hummus for a crunchy/creamy treat.
Fresh Fruit: Cut into bite-sized pieces and skewer onto kabobs for easy handling. Kid-friendly. Makes a fun snack and can be dusted with cinnamon if desired.
Avocado: One of the most versatile snacks there is! Cut in half and serve any of the following ingredients right on top. Try these sweet ingredients: shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped nuts, dollop of almond butter, coconut oil, chopped fruits, cinnamon, scoop of protein powder, etc. Or try these savory ingredients: salsa, fried or poached egg, tuna, shredded veggies, chicken, salmon, etc.
Avocado: Make into Guacamole to use as a spread, a dip, or a topping. Mash ripe avocados with any of the following – salsa, chopped onions (try grilling them first for a unique flavor burst!), cilantro, lemon or lime juice, sea salt, garlic salt, or your ingredient of choice, etc.
Roasted Nuts: Bake on a shallow pan in a 250 degree oven. Or use a dry saucepan over medium heat. Stir often to prevent burning. Roast your favorite nut varieties and sprinkle with cinnamon or desired spice such as cayenne.
Roasted Seeds: Choose sunflower seeds or pepitas, etc. Cook as above for nuts.
Roasted Broccoli or Brussels Sprouts: Cut into bite-sized pieces, drizzle in Healthy Oil, roast in 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes until edges become slightly browned. Season as desired.
Freeze Dried Fruits: Select varieties with no added chemicals or sugars. Add to nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, etc. to make your own trail mix
Fruit and Veggie Smoothies: Use natural unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk (or coconut water) and blend with any of the following – protein powders, almond butter, raw cacao powder, cinnamon, nuts, frozen berries, leafy greens, ice if desired. A great pick-me-up!
Turkey or Sliced Meats: Great as the basis for roll ups. Use natural, nitrate-free varieties, spread with guacamole or hummus and add any of the following — spinach leaves, shredded veggies, cooked black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, or your fillings of choice.
Fruit and Nut Bowl: Pour coconut or almond milk over favorite nuts, berries, shredded coconut, etc. and favorite spices.
Energy Protein Bars: Try your hand at making your own tasty varieties. With a wealth of options to choose from, there’s certainly something that suits your personal dietary needs. Try this Protein Bar Recipe Site for some great ideas.
Here’s a Fun Faux-Nut Recipe!
These nutty-tasting beans are simple to make and fun to serve as a snack or party appetizer. They also pack well for lunches and are actually, nut-free.
1 can Garbanzo Beans (a.k.a. chickpeas) – about 15 oz.
I don’t typically recommend canned foods, but I’ve been able to find canned organic garbanzo beans with no added preservatives, etc. Simply choose the best quality product you can find and rinse very well. Of course, cooking your own beans is fine, too. Pat the rinsed beans dry with a paper towel and remove as much moisture (and “skins” as possible).
Place the beans on a baking tray lined with foil and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat well (go ahead and use your hands!) and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Stir every 10 minutes or so and check often. These can burn quickly.
When cooled enough to taste, try one to see if it’s still too moist in the middle. If so, return to the oven. Keep testing every 5 minutes or so until done.
Flavor with your favorite seasonings and spices. Go ahead and experiment with sea salt, pepper, dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, etc. From simple sea salt to spices with a bit more kick, there are plenty of options to choose from. If nut allergies aren’t a concern, you can add nuts, too, for a great texture combination.
Enjoy this crunchy (and addictive) treat!
A Final Note
In the interest of promoting good health, you’ll notice I didn’t include any snack option that contain inflammatory ingredients such as wheat/gluten, grains (especially corn), processed dairy, refined sugar, peanuts, or high-glycemic fruits (such as bananas).
The purpose of this list is to provide you with ideas that can expand on your existing snack repertoire. Trying new things is a good way to keep things interesting where your nutrition plans are concerned. Besides developing new tastes, it’s also fun to step up your creativity in the kitchen. You may be surprised at what new favorites you can acquire!
Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia editor for the ProHealth website community.
Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™– a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.
To learn more about the ingredients in typical everyday foods, you’re invited to sign up for Sue’s free Stop Feeding Yourself PAIN guide.