Have you ever opened your lunch box, only to find a lone bag of rice cakes meant to be your snack? You try to convince yourself that this low-calorie air food will tie you over. Spoiler alert – it only temporarily fills you up. Ten minutes later, you’re ravenously raiding the break room for those glazed donuts your co-worker brought in. You’re looking for a balanced and satisfying snack, but this ain’t cutting it.
Sound familiar? What’s really going on here?
As an Intuitive Eating Dietitian, so many of my clients come to me with previous food rules picked up from dieting. Rules like, “I only allow 1 snack per day” or “I only snack on zero point foods.” They enjoy hearing my perspective on snacking because it isn’t what you’d expect from most registered dietitians.
In this post, I’m sharing my perspective on snacking through an intuitive eating lens and 15 satisfying snack ideas. Let’s dive in!
Setting the Stage for Satisfaction
Intuitive Eating principle #6 is all about discovering satisfaction. Eating can be a pleasurable and enjoyable experience. This guides us to choose snacks that we actually want to eat, not that we feel like we *should* eat. Before jumping to the snack ideas, consider the following tips to set the stage for satisfaction.
What do you really want to eat?
The first question to ask is, “What do you REALLY want to eat?”
When you ignore what you want to eat, you’re left unsatisfied and searching for more. When you eat what you want, it may take less food to feel both full AND satisfied. In fact, studies show that eating for pleasure is correlated with smaller portions and higher wellbeing (1).
Consider the 3 T’s
Next, consider the trifecta: taste, texture, and temperature. I call this the 3 T’s of satisfaction!
Taste: Are you craving something sweet, savory, or salty? What taste feels right to you at this time? Perhaps you’re looking for something mild or even bland.
Texture: How important is texture to you? Do you prefer a snack that is smooth, creamy, crunchy, chewy, or crispy? Imagine the sensation of each on your tongue. What sounds right to you at this moment?
Temperature: What temperature of food is enticing? Is it a cold, rainy day where a warm snack feels right? Or is it a hot summer day where cooling foods sound better?
You may not be able to satisfy each of these senses with every snack, and that’s okay! Choose the components that are most important to you in the moment.
Mindfully enjoy your food
Finally, feeling satisfied with your snack truly hinges on a mindful eating experience. Staying present as you eat allows you to engage your senses and savor your food!
Think about: how much enjoyment do you get from eating a bag of chips while simultaneously responding to emails? My guess is that you barely even tasted the chips! Now imagine eating each salty, crunchy, tangy chip with minimal distraction. There’s a difference!
15 Balanced & Satisfying Snack Ideas
The following snack ideas incorporate protein and fiber. That’s what I’ve found helps give my body that satiating feeling of fullness. Everyone’s taste preferences are different so try a few and determine what satisfies your belly AND taste buds.
- Apple Nachos: sliced apples + peanut butter + cinnamon + mini chocolate chips
- DIY Trail Mix: your choice of mixed nuts + dried fruit + other mix-ins
- Almonds + dried cranberries + dark chocolate
- Cashews + dried mango + coconut shreds
- Peanuts + banana chips + popcorn
- Sweet Cottage Cheese: cottage cheese + fresh berries + cinnamon
- Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip: plain greek yogurt + dry ranch seasoning + veggies for dipping
- Pepperoni, Cheese, & Olive Skewers: on a skewer combine pepperoni slice + cheese cube + olive
- Everything Bagel Eggs: hard boiled eggs + everything but the bagel seasoning
- Snack Plate: hummus + pretzels + baby carrots + fruit of choice
- Ants On A Log: celery + peanut butter + raisins (not just for kids)
- Mini Shake: plant-based protein powder blended with almond milk + nut butter + ice
- Protein Bars: Date Energy Bars, Lara Bars, or Kind Bars
- Homemade Perfect Bars
- Oatmeal Cashew Energy Balls
- Crispbread + Avocado + Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Dark Chocolate Rice Cake Thins + Almond Butter + Sliced Strawberries
- Pre-sliced Cheese + Oven Roasted Turkey Slices + Apple Slices
Pin or Save your favorite snack ideas!
Aim to keep your kitchen stocked with a couple of snack options that you find tasty and satisfying! This is by no means a complete list. Let me know in the comments what snacks help you stay energized and satisfied.