Healthy Snacking

  Photo by    rawpixel    on    Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Have you ever grabbed an apple mid-afternoon for a small pick-me-up only to feel hungry again a short while later? You think you’re making a healthy choice, but with your snack gone you’re maybe then pulled in the direction of not-so-healthy options to curb your hunger and energy needs?

I’ve definitely been there! A few years ago a piece of fruit was my go to snack at the office… although for some reason I couldn’t seem to kick my late afternoon chocolate bar and diet Coke habit!

Don’t worry, I’m not saying that fruit is unhealthy or even that it shouldn’t be a snack!

It’s totally the opposite! But there is a missing piece – balance.

Fruit is the easiest example, but really this is generally about carbohydrate dominant snacks. And when you’re trying your best to eat healthfully, the majority of people reach for fruit as that snack. But you could apply the same idea to any other carb-based snacks (I also use to be a huge eater of rice cakes!).

In general, carbohydrates are going to have a larger impact on your blood sugar levels. If your snack is predominantly carb-based, you’ll likely see a spike in your blood sugar soon after consumption followed soon after by a crash. The snack just doesn’t keep you satiated very long and there is a good chance you’ll end up with less energy and more hunger just a little while later.

The missing link is fat! Healthy fats help slow down our absorption of food and therefore energy. By ensuring you always have a source of fat along with the carbs in your snack, you’ll likely feel more satiated and have have more level, consistent energy!

Of course, depending on your preference, you could just skip the carbs and focus on a protein and fat based snack, but one is not necessarily better than the other – our needs are all different!

  Photo by    Toa Heftiba    on    Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

So what might be some healthful snack combinations to try out?

You could pair your carb-based snack with:

  • Nuts or nut butter

  • Full-fat yogurt (dairy or dairy-free)

  • Cheese

  • Hardboiled egg

  • Avocado

  • Oily fish (like salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc.)

Oily fish might strike you as a bit strange for a snack, but they are one of the best sources of healthy, omega-3 fats and are incredibly nutrient dense! Although your co-workers at the office might not love this one 😉

And don’t forget, as much as I’m talking about fruit here, raw veggies are also a great snacking tool and can also pair with all of the above!

Some other snack ideas:

  • Small portion of leftovers

  • Egg muffins (like mini-frittatas)

  • Roasted veggies with an added drizzle of olive oil or tahini

  • Bliss balls (also called fat balls) or other nut-based bars

  • Trail mix (nuts & seeds base with optionally a small amount of dried fruit or dark chocolate)

  • Frozen yogurt & fruit popsicle

  • Chia seed pudding

  • Smoothie

Do you have any favourite go-to snacks that I haven’t mentioned? – Let me know in the comments below!

Happy snacking!

Nutrition 101 – Coffee

Nutrition 101 – Coffee

Nutrition 101 – Coffee

Is coffee healthy?

As with many things in nutrition, this is not a black or white answer!

Coffee has become ubiquitous with caffeine, but it is helpful to also consider the two separately.


Caffeine stimulates our central nervous system. It increases our mental alertness and decreases feelings of tiredness while also increasing our brain activity and muscle coordination. Taken before a workout, it can improve our physical performance. At the same time, however, it stimulates our cardiovascular system increasing our blood pressure and heart rate.

That being said, these cardiovascular effects usually dissipate with regular (moderate) consumption and studies do not support the idea that caffeine (via coffee) increase your chance of heart disease. But this can increase our feelings of stress, anxiety, and irritability.

Caffeine can increase our body’s metabolism (or basal metabolic rate) which could help us burn more calories. It may also help lower blood sugar, at least at first. But these two effects could lead to increased levels of hunger or cravings for sugar ultimately increasing blood sugar levels.

Caffeine also acts as a diuretic (stimulating your body to release water) and a mild laxative. You should be sure to drink plenty of water to replenish your stores whenever consuming caffeine. And if you only have a bowel movement after your daily cup of coffee, it could mean that you are mildly constipated, the caffeine acting as a dietary aid to get things moving!

Caffeine can be addictive – you can experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability, or brain fog. You can also grow tolerant of it over time and need more to achieve the same result.

In addition to the above, regular, over consumption of caffeine could lead to cardiac sensitivity like abnormal heartbeats, stomach and intestinal irritation, and insomnia. It can also decrease your body’s ability to absorb some vitamins and minerals, like calcium and iron.

The stimulating effects of caffeine and it’s effects on blood sugar are particularly troublesome for those suffering from effects of adrenal fatigue or burnout – often people who are consuming a high level of caffeine as a crutch due to the chronic high levels of stress depleting their body of nutrients.

It can also mess with your sleep – even up to 12 hours later! If you’re having troubles sleeping you should think about stopping any caffeine intake after 2pm (or even earlier).



Coffee itself is loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants get rid of free radicals in the body which left alone can cause oxidative damage increasing inflammation and can lead to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

It contains some nutrients, like magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B3.

Some studies have shown a positive relationship between coffee and decreasing risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, dementia or Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s as well as possibly protecting against cirrhosis of the liver.

Other studies have also found that regular consumption of coffee can decrease feelings of depression, especially in women.

Overall, it’s hard to untangle the benefits of coffee and caffeine from each other, since many of the studies done on coffee are using its caffeinated version. However, if you do find your body reacts poorly to caffeine (reflect on whether you experience an increased heart rate or an increase in feelings of stress or anxiety after drinking), then try out decaffeinated coffee instead. Just keep in mind that decaf coffee only removes roughly 97% of the caffeine in the drink, so you still want to be mindful of your consumption especially in the evening prior to bed.

Many people drink their coffee with added milk and sugar. If you are regularly consuming multiple cups of coffee every day with either of these added, take care for the extra calories and sugar you are consuming – often we forget about these when looking at our diet overall. Those calories and sugar can really add up without us realizing it.


The bottom line

Listen to your body! There are some days you may be able to enjoy coffee, and some days where you might need to cut down, or cut it out completely!  I personally enjoy a cup or two everyday, but there are some days where I need to skip it entirely. For women, we have hormone levels that are constantly fluctuating all throughout the month. It’s totally normal to have some days where caffeine feels great for our body and some days where it doesn’t.

In the end, as with all our food and nutrition, being mindful and consuming with intention is the best way to ensure we are giving our body the nutrients it needs when it needs them.

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Eat Seasonally! Free Fall Produce Guide

Today, when you walk around the produce section of a grocery store, you often have no concept anymore of the four seasons. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are stocked throughout the year and so we have slowly gotten away from cooking and eating with the seasons.

Perhaps thanks to the Pumpkin Spice Latte we do still associate pumpkin and other squashes with the autumn! But there are so many fruits and veggies that belong to this transitional season beyond pumpkin. 

With autumn’s arrival the temperatures tend to get cooler and we often move away from raw salads and cold smoothies towards warming foods like roasted veggies and comforting bowls of porridge. These warm foods are easier on our digestion as our bodies generally need to use more energy to keep warm or potentially guard against the cold and flu season that may be beginning to hit. If you feel this way, then I encourage you to lean into it and fully embrace the change! 

Eating seasonally also has some other benefits. Choosing in-season produce means you likely are getting fruits and veggies that are more nutrient dense, since they have been grown in their optimal environment and are freshly harvested. They’ll also probably be more flavourful than their off-season neighbours in the produce section!

The best way to do this is to head to your local farmer’s market where you can support local growers and see with your own eyes what has been freshly harvested.

But whether you’re going to the market or just to your local grocery store, I got you! Click below to download my easy guide to autumn produce. Pin this up in your kitchen for an easy resource when you’ll planning your weekly grocery haul!

See some things on the list you don’t recognize? I challenge you this season to try 2-3 new fruits or veggies! It will help keep meal times interesting, foster creativity in your cooking, and eating a wider range of food usually means a wider range of vitamins and minerals as well!

Let me know what new fruits or veggies you’re going to try in the comments!

Happy shopping!


Healthfully Heather
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