This post is sponsored by Hood®. All opinions are my own.
A big nutrition challenge that many people come to me with is mindless eating, especially toward
the end of the day or at night:
>> Getting home ravenous from work or a workout, and before you know it, you’re attacking the cabinets and eating anything in sight.
>> Being a little hungry after dinner, grabbing a box of crackers, and telling yourself you’ll just have a few while watching TV. Before you know it, the whole box is empty.
>> Eating so “perfectly” and according to plan during the day that by the time nighttime rolls around, you feel deprived. Before you know it, you’ve had some chocolate, the pretzels you bought for the kids, spoonfuls of peanut butter out of the jar, a scoop of ice cream, and more.
Mindless and emotional eating is one of the main nutrition struggles I help my 1:1 Empowered Strength clients overcome. I teach my girls how to get in touch with their natural hunger cues, learn what their bodies are asking for and WHY, and I help them figure out how to actually make mindful decisions in the moment.
Everyone’s out there saying “just eat mindfully!,” but nobody ever tells you HOW to do it, am I right?!
To me, a big part of mindful eating is simply learning how to slow down.
Not only slowing down to ask yourself if you’re physically hungry, why you want to eat in the moment (stress? boredom? reward?), if what you’re about to eat will be satisfying, how will it make you feel after you eat it, etc., but slowing down in the kitchen too!
So often us busy women are trying to do a million things at once (gotta cross one more thing off the to do list, right?!) that we reach for food without even realizing it! And then what happens? We end up feeling guilty, down on ourselves, and wondering why we ate food we didn’t even want to eat in the first place.
One really simple strategy that I use to slow down in the kitchen and practice mindful eating is to create what I call an intentional snack plate.
Basically, creating an intentional snack plate is the opposite of going to town in your fridge. If your answer to the “Am I physically hungry?” question is yes, then take a few minutes to very deliberately, mindfully, and INTENTIONALLY pick out some snacks that are in line with your nutrition goals to satisfy and satiate you in the moment.
Tips for putting together your own intentional snack plate:
1. Use fun plates.
Get yourself a couple of fun, colorful plates that you can use specifically for your intentional snack plates. I have a few at home, and using them has become part of my intentional snack plate habit. They make me happy!
2. Include a source of protein.
Including protein will not only fill you up, but it will up your overall protein content for the day if you struggle to get enough. My clients are always asking me for high protein snack ideas, and here are some you might want to consider:
Hood® Cottage Cheese
Hard boiled eggs
Dry roasted edamame
Slice of turkey (nitrate free)
Lately I’ve been really into using cottage cheese as a dip for veggies on my snack plates. The Hood® brand is my personal favorite for consistency and taste, and they have a great selection of savory flavors like Hood® Cottage Cheese with Chive, Hood® Cottage Cheese with Cucumber and Dill, and Hood® Cottage Cheese Garden Vegetables. Check some of them out using some coupons here!
Plus, just one serving gets you 13-14 grams of protein right there.
For those who prefer a sweeter palate, Hood® also offers flavors like Hood® Cottage Cheese with Pineapple, Hood® Cottage Cheese with Honey and Pear, and Hood® Cottage Cheese with Maple and Vanilla Added.
3. Include fruits and veggies.
I try to create as many meals and snacks as possible around my #GoPROeats philosophy as possible, which is to start with protein and produce and work backward from there.
For veggies, consider raw veggies like bell peppers, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, and cauliflower. I also like using blanched green beans, kale chips, and baked zucchini fries.
One of my absolute favorites lately has been sugar snap peas because they are in season right now. The ones from our local farmer’s market are reaaaallly tasty, and I think they pair really well with Hood®’s chive cottage cheese flavor.
So do bell peppers. Can’t get enough of those combinations!
For fruit, sliced apples, sliced bananas, sliced pears, berries, cantaloupe, grapes, and cherries are all great choices. I also love sliced peaches and plums in the summer!
4. Include something that gives you a little satisfaction factor.
Remember that when you eat a little less perfectly day-to-day, you’ll eat nutritiously a lot more consistently for the long-term. For this reason, I recommend that my clients include something that they tend to overdo it on or claim they have no willpower over.
Nuts/nut butters, guacamole/avocado, and cheese (cheese sticks, mozzarella balls, etc.) are fat sources, but they have higher protein content and would contribute to a more satisfying snack plate overall for the crunch/taste.
For those who love crunchy or salty snacks, I’d also consider adding a handful of crackers, pretzels , or chips. For those who love something sweet, maybe a few pieces of chocolate or some granola. Consuming them mindfully as part of your ISP will eventually train you to eat them with control.
And before you say “oh no I could never do that,” remind yourself that exposure equals control, and deprivation typically results in a binge. Whatever it is for you, the key is to practice exposing yourself to said “off limits” foods. Doing this with an intentional snack plate is a great way to start, and when you are done with the food on your snack plate, you think about your fullness levels and move on.
My clients who have implemented the intentional snack plate strategy absolutely love it. They feel like they are making more empowered choices, and they are learning to slow down and listen to their body’s natural hunger cues. And because they are intentionally choosing how to fuel their bodies, they feel more in control of their food choices instead of allowing their food be in control of them. There’s no more “I have no power over chips” or “before I even knew it” happening.
And I love seeing the pictures of the plates they text me when they get home from the gym or work!
Readers, let’s chat! Do you struggle with mindless eating? Have you ever tried making an intentional snack plate? What’s your ideal ISP food combination?
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I think my after dinner snack/dessert is possibly my favorite meal of the day! I definitely plan it out and it’s always something sweet. Halo top, yogurt with chocolate chips, good chocolate with a glass of wine… My “tv snack” is sometimes the first food I log in the day (when I’m tracking) because I really want to enjoy it.