Friday, November 30, 2012

The Importance Of Planning Simple Low Carb Snacks

The best way to have any luck with a low carb diet is to PLAN, PLAN and PLAN SOME MORE! When most people start a low carb diet, they jump in with both feet and don’t really see the importance of planning. Why is it so important to plan not only your meals but your snacks? And what can I plan for snacks that won't bore me and my taste buds? Let's take a look.

Why plan for snacks?

There is danger in not planning for snacking on a low carb diet because an empty tummy is a sure disaster for any diet. If you allow yourself to get really hungry, you'll start reaching for the first food you can find. And I guarantee it won’t always be the healthy, low carb item you should have had. Your mind does a crazy trick on your body when you're hungry. Breads, pastas, cookies, and cakes beckon you, while that piece of chicken sits mute.

By the time you get so hungry you don’t care what you eat, you grab those bad carbs and chow down, not only eating poorly, but over eating as well. Why? Well, in the beginning of your diet when you are just starting to eliminate bad carbs from your body, you tend to crave them even more. Now, this won't last forever, but in the beginning of your diet your body hasn't learned that it's okay not to have all that sugar and starch. It wants that instant boost and doesn't care about the end results.

What can I snack on?

Until you let your body know it's okay not to saturate it with bad carbs, you will feel some cravings. That's okay. But, you don't want to give into those cravings or they will never end. Here are some ideas for quick snacks so you can properly plan ahead of time before the cravings hit.

One thing I found early in the game is the great advantage of having a regular supply of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. This is a diet game changer. This is not only a tasty snack, but also a protein powerhouse. They are quick and easy to make. Pick a slow morning and put a batch of eggs on to boil and you'll be ready when your hunger pangs hit. I peel mine all at once, too, and keep them in a bowl in the refrigerator. When I'm hungry, I don't even have to stop to peel it. If that sounds bland to you, a shake or two of hot sauce or a dab of coarse ground mustard will change your mind. Now that's a go-to snack!

Another super easy protein snack is cheese. Buy cheese sticks and they're easy to grab and go. Buy bulk cheese, cut it up when you get it home, and wrap each snack size piece in a little plastic food bag. Now you've got a snack that's easy, filling, and healthy for your low carb diet.

I also like to keep a good supply of cooked chicken, turkey, or other meats in the refrigerator. I will just grab a slice and eat it 'as is' if I'm hungry enough. Or, I may make a little low carb lunch by wrapping the meat up in romaine lettuce with a little mustard and perhaps a bit of onion for crunch. That really fits the bill. And don't forget that canned tuna or sardines in the pantry. Get creative to enjoy these super proteins any time you need a quick boost.

More great choices for quick snacks to have on hand is almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts, and macadamia nuts. Notice I didn't mention cashews. They are one nut that is high in carbohydrates, so also beware of buying mixed nuts which often include cashews, too much salt, and, yes, even added sugar. Be sure to read the labels if you're buying canned nuts and seeds, and don't forget to deduct the fiber from the carbs to evaluate your net carbs. Buy raw nuts when you can and roast them yourself to give them a nuttier flavor.

And, did I mention celery? Wow! Celery is an awesome snack full of fiber and nutrients. Celery is good all by itself but makes a wonderful 'vehicle' for other foods, too. Fill your celery sticks with natural peanut butter or cream cheese mixed with mustard and onions. YUM! And while you're digging around the vegetable crisper, pull out those cucumbers, slice them up and dip them in hummus. Dice some tomatoes and mix in some balsamic vinaigrette for a cooling and refreshing snack. Or how about just a couple crispy dill pickles?

Looking for a snack to fill your tummy and warm you up at the same time? I love to microwave asparagus for just a minute or so and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. You can do this with other veggies as well. The salty goodness is satisfying and the fiber in the vegetables fills you up and is so healthy for you. Also, try making pepperoni 'chips' in the microwave. Just heat on a paper towel until they get crispy. Top with a bit of cheese for a nice 'nacho' treat. You can use the oven for these snacks as well.

Just remember, the most important tip to take away from all this is to PLAN, PLAN, and PLAN SOME MORE. With just a few snack ideas, you and your diet will live happily ever after!

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