I have been working with a nutritionist and reading about diet and exercise these last few months. I have a few snack and eating ideas I have worked into my daily schedule I thought I would share with you. First, I try an easy rule of thumb. I try to have a protein, a healthy carb and fat in every meal or snack. For a lean protein I try a lean meat or dairy, for the carb fruit, veggies and whole grains and for the fat nuts, avocado or fish. I don’t do well counting or measuring so I am better at putting in ‘3’. For example for breakfast I can have a whole grain cereal with organic whole milk and fruit so I made 3. Then for a snack I might do yogurt with granola and fruit so again I make three. For dinner I might have a turkey sandwich on whole grain with avocado.
Another thing I have found that helps tide off binging or cravings is ‘grazing.’ If I eat something about every 4 hours it really helps to keep me from getting so hungry that I just eat anything in front of me. It also helps to keep the portion sizes down because I am not running on empty. Grazing is easier, I find, if I keep something handy. Often eating seems to be more an afterthought than a plan. So I try to plan to make the afterthoughts easier. So I put Raw Revolution bars in my pockets and back pack. I keep them in my car console. Every time I find myself looking around for something, they are there! It is easy, convenient and healthy. I keep a tub of them at the barn for everyone and a big jar of them on the counter at home. I do the same with veggies, like baby carrots. I have a bowl with water in the frig and it is always full of baby carrots. They are cleaned and ready to eat. This prep motivation to eat healthy also works well with my smoothie obsession! I buy the pre packed and frozen dole frozen fruit with no sugar added. They come with mixed berry, strawberry banana, and all sorts of combinations. One small bag is exactly one smoothie. I keep cartons of almond milk and soy milk in the frig. I use the soy milk for the liquid in the smoothie and then dump in one bag of fruit. It is all cleaned, cut and measured. Ease makes it quick and convenient. I keep bags of Matrix organic powders in the cupboard next to the blender and I dump in different powders based on my daily needs.
I am also a huge yogurt fan. I live for Chobani! I keep bags of granola in the cupboard next to the frig and dump it right in. I also keep berries that really need little prep work like blueberries and raspberries in the frig prepped to dump in. The Chobanipacks that have the granola and fruit already in are great too and even easier. I even freeze yogurt packs and eat them for my ice cream cravings or after workouts to cool down. It makes me feel indulgent when I freeze the chocolate fudge flavored yogurt and I really splurge.
I have read up on dark chocolate. I joke about being a candy freak but I inevitably buy things and never ever eat them. I have never managed to eat all my Halloween or Easter candy in my life. However, I do have a dark chocolate craving at times. I have read that dark chocolate helps lower stress hormones. So I do keep a nice dark chocolate bar in the frig and probably once a week or every other week I will eat a square out of it when I need it. However, I rarely manage to eat a whole bar in a month.
Another big helpful idea to premix your own trail mix in a big bowl. I like nuts and dried fruits. Then put it in snack size ziplock bags. These I then put in my back packs and pockets just like Raw Revolution bars. Again, convenience and a little planning ahead makes it easier to eat healthy. Another thing I found out in research was the beef jerky is a great snack for athletes. It is a high protein snack. It also has sodium to help to keep you from cramping in strenuous workout conditions. Bananas and apples are easily portable snacks and rich in high energy carbs. Finally, hydration is key. I just read that I can keep protein powder in little ziplock bags in my back pack. If I get bottles of coconut water and mix in the protein a little over an hour before a workout it will help with hydration and my potassium needs. Remember water is key and just having a drink after you work out is not the best way. Replacing fluids is important to prevent muscle breakdown from dehydration.
The last bit is for gym workout times not the barn. These are different levels of muscle activity and different types of physical activity but we need both to be balanced athletes and to be able to call on our physical strength (like core development) that we build at the gym to help with riding.
Anyway, there are lots of snack recipes on the Internet. Most use peanut butter (which I unfortunately am not a big fan of). However, do a little fun research and you can get lots of great ideas. I think the key to being able to get on a plan these last few months is to make it as easy as possible and to structure the plan in a way that fits. For me it is the 1+1+1 is 3 on every meal and convenient prep with my smoothies, yogurt and trail mix snacks. So think about what is holding you back and try to figure out ways around it!