The Most Important Principles for Staying Young: You Can Snack Healthy Too!

18 Jun

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

Q) I’m afraid my hubby and I, while pretty good at avoiding the Five Food Felons of your book when we eat at home, and aren’t horrible at restaurants — we get fish or skinless chicken, no added sugars anywhere, and whole grains only — but are horrible with snacks, and it seems we are eating more snacks and bar foods as meals.  And then we are still hungry when we get home and snack more.   What can we do? – Dottie in Indian Wells, CA.

A. You are right, North America is under a snack attack and the snacks are winning! It seems more and more of you are substituting grab-and-go foods for real meals. Finding healthy snack or bar foods can be tough. It’s one reason Americans end up spending $48 billion a year on salty or sugary munchables (three times more than we spend on fruits and vegetables). That’s a lot of buck for very little nutritional bang! So, here are my suggestions:

Prepare for What’s Coming and Snack Early: Nothing replaces the nutritional–and emotional—benefits of a sit down meal with the family, but my first tip is to snack on healthy foods before you go out so you are not tempted to have unhealthy foods. That means you should eat or carry snacks that are healthy with you in the car. Stock your fridge and pantry with easy grab-n-go foods. Keep unsalted nuts and nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew) on hand. In the fridge, stock the seasonal fruits and veggies you love along with oil-free hummus, and whole-grain bread or small whole-grain pitas or tortilla wraps. My favorites for the car are walnuts and apples, because they make me smarter (see below).

 Prepare for What’s Coming and Snack Healthy After: Stock your freezer and with easy grab-n-go foods like frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, and mango chunks) and veggies (bags of frozen green beans, edamame, and peas). Keep counter-top goodies like ground flax seeds, roasted sunflower or sesame seeds, bananas, apples, tomatoes, and avocado handy, too.
If you eat in the same bars or other consistent places, ask them to serve healthier foods or modify the recipe for you. For example, ask for guacamole with just avocados, tomatoes, onions, and spices with no sour cream, for example.  Or hummus without oil served with whole grain pitas.
Turn over…

Breakfast snacking: For a quick breakfast, whirl up a quick smoothie. Combine fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, greens of any kind (celery, spinach, whatever looks green to you), unsweetened almond or soymilk,  and a few chia seeds. Or spread almond butter on a whole-grain tortilla, top it with banana slices, sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, and then roll it up and go!
Lunch snacking: Put an easy-open pouch of tuna in water, pre-washed greens, avocado chunks, and a drizzle of dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice into a tightly sealed container. Or mash beans on a tortilla, top with tomato, avocado, fold it up, and tuck into a sandwich bag. Toss eat-and-run sides into your lunch bag, too — like fresh fruit, baby carrots, red pepper and zucchini strips (cut in advance and keep in your fridge).
Just want a car snack before you go out? Walnuts and apples are my favorite. Favorite because I like the taste, favorite because they are easy to carry, favorite because they are easy to eat, and favorite because they make me younger and keep me from losing all my marbles.  Experiment with toasting walnuts for a taste you love.  I frequently toast ‘em at 275 degrees Fahrenheit (~135 degrees Celsius) in a toaster oven for ten minutes. Two recent studies found that just 6-18 walnut halves a day (different amounts in different studies) were associated with six-year younger brain function in large numbers of humans in the National Health and Nutrition studies.  That equivalent amount given to mice predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease reduced it by 50%.
Thanks for reading. And feel free to send questions—to youdocs@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

-Young Dr. Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

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