Home Debunking The Myths The Ancient Art of Snack-Fu

The Ancient Art of Snack-Fu

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Yes… because it has truly become an art form for me. Trying to diagnose when I’m hungry – truly hungry, and not just craving something because of a memory or a scent – then slowly determining just how hungry I am followed up with finding the proper item to feed my hunger? Yeah, that’s an art form. And once you’ve perfected it, your solutions may not look anything like mine or anyone elses – and that’s okay, trust me – but they will work for you.

How often do you snack?

It’s not how often you snack, it’s what you’re snacking on. You have to truly think about your day, and what you’re eating (and if you’re writing in a food diary, are you even including the little candies and cookies you snack on in your diary?) throughout the day. Every time you stick something in your mouth, you’re snacking. Is it candy? Is it office cookies? Are they empty calories – calories with neither nutrients nor real food (like cookies, cakes, candies)?

Consider how much time goes between your meals. Do you leave for work at 6am, with no lunch break until 1pm? Chances are, you might overeat at your 1pm meal because it’s been at least 7 hours since the last time you ate! We can’t have that!

If you know you’re goin to have a long day… plan! Prepare in advance. How?

Tools of the Trade

Let me tell you how I snack.

First of all, I keep food everywhere that I know I’d have a hard time convincing myself to not seek out a quicker, cheaper, less healthy option. Like… the car. Or… my desk. Perhaps, even, my kitchen. Yes.. the kitchen. If the name of the game is to avoid overeating, you head yourself off at the pass by providing little things that can quickly satiate an immediate hunger, and give you enough time to make sound decisions about what you want to eat. So for me, snacking helps curb that “hungry” feeling – if I avoid eating at the last minute (which is what causes that “hungry” feeling) and eat a little bit each time on a set schedule, I will never encounter that hungry feeling (or if I do, it’ll be rare) and I’ll never have a reason to overeat. I’ll never encounter that “Ohhh, I’m starving” feeling that usually propels me to overindulge.

What am I snacking on?

I keep a bag of grapes in the freezer. Why? Because they’re healthy, low-calorie, they take a while to eat and actually make me stop and think about whether or not I’m really hungry. I just grab a couple of frozen grapes, bite and chew them slowly (I’m quick to get brain freeze, so I’m careful and chew slowly) and before too long, I can assess just how hungry I am. Will I need only a few more grapes? Should I consider cooking? I get time to think about these things while I chew my grapes – slowly and carefully so as to avoid brain freeze! – and enjoy myself.

I keep a ziploc bag with half a cup (which is, essentially, two servings) of sunflower seeds in the bottom of my purse. Sunflower seeds are high in protein and fiber, so it doesn’t take a lot of ’em to get you where you need to be. They won’t satisfy me if I’m having that “Grrr, I’m starving” feeling, but if I’m eating on my proper schedule, I should never encounter that feeling, right?

I keep a bag of freeze dried banana chips in the car. This is usually for both myself and my daughter, just in case I’m stuck in traffic. They’re naturally sweet, very nutritious, and very satisfying to me. I just eat them one at a time – even if it means I eat the entire little ziploc bag of ’em.. I eat them one at a time. Remember, if I’m eating on my proper schedule, I should not have that ravenous “eat-six-at-a-time” feeling, right?

I keep cocoa powder in the house. Mix a little cocoa powder with water and confectioner’s sugar, and I’ve got chocolate sauce. Grab my strawberries, and ta-da! A nice light little strawberry and chocolate snack. Clearly, that’s a weekend thing. Not everyone has the time or means to make their own chocolate sauce during the week or after a long day!

The grocery sells sliced cantaloupe, so I keep some in the fridge. A slice or two usually tides me over for the next hour or two. In fact, if you don’t have time to tend to fruit yourself, those grocery store fruit salads might work pretty well altogether. A small one should help out pretty well!

What works for you?

These are a few things that, over time, have proven to work for me. I had to look at my routine. I had to check out my diary and see where I was the most vulnerable, and that’s when the answers started pouring out. Where do you find that you’re most vulnerable? What snacks tend to tide you over until your next meal?

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Reecie March 5, 2010 - 3:14 PM

very good post! I keep trail mix, apples, granola and maybe fruit cups on me–usually my purse whenever I leave the house. Which is why I always have a big purse! I’d ideally like a bottle of water too, I don’t buy bottled water like that but maybe I can buy a jug like the one I keep at work for the car.

The concept of keeping snacks for me happened a few years ago I noticed when I’d visit friends or just be out with others not under my control and I’d get really really cranky waiting to eat and/or then have hunger headaches. I’m not diabetic but my mother is and she got me in the habit of saying “my blood sugar is low” its something you can feel physically. And since most people don’t eat as much as I do or want to accommodate you–with something reasonably healthy, I just pack my own snacks.

I haven’t had sunflower seeds in a long time but nuts do a good job of filling you up quick or that “tied over” until you can have a satisfying meal. I grew up hating nuts outside of honey roasted cashews, but they really do the job–my trail mix has almonds & peanuts.

Erika March 5, 2010 - 9:00 PM

LMAO@ “That’s why I always have a big purse!” I ain’t even mad atcha!

I’m a fan of seeds AND nuts because the combination of fat and protein in both will tide you over for a long time – with the fat giving you that “ahh” feeling, and the protein keeping your tummy busy in digestion. I’m glad you mentioned nuts – I only listed the things I have on me right now. I’ll probably do more snacking posts in the future, ’cause I have to go out of my way to avoid the occasional “hot fries” or “dale and thomas popcorn” cravings, LOL!

Erica March 7, 2010 - 9:44 PM

Hi Erika!

This post helped me out. Eating is my worse enemy right now! I’ve mastered excercising on a schedule but I’m afraid to eat anything so I end up eating EVERYTHING! I need desperately need to learn to snack! Please do more snacking posts and thank u for the ideas posted in this blog!

Erika March 7, 2010 - 9:47 PM

I’m glad the post helped! I think I can do a follow up on snacking, certainly. Do you have any specific questions I may be able to help out with?

Ty May 22, 2010 - 8:09 AM

Many times people confuse hunger with thirst. Drink water next time you’re unsure and see if that does it for you.

Erica May 22, 2010 - 8:24 AM

Hi Erika,

My problem is that I’m a meat eater. So when I snack its like chicken fingers or something. Also when do u snack? After breakfast and lunch or do u just snack whenever u feel a lil hungry.

Erika May 22, 2010 - 2:14 PM

It doesn’t sound like snacking – it sounds like MEALing!

Why not set only designated times during which you’ll eat a meal, and snack in the in-between time?

Create an eating schedule for yourself, and go “die hard” trying to stick to it. I’m almost positive that will help. 🙂

Shawn September 6, 2010 - 1:31 PM

Thank you for this post!!!! I am so going to get grapes today! I have been eating every two hours. I do find when I’m at my desk I am looking for a snack in the middle of an intense project and I reach for gum which makes me so hungry that at break I’m in the lunch room vending machine looking for something to eat and cheetos kept winning. I switched to cashews, and it worked! I’m going to try the sunflower seeds in my purse now so if I don’t have change I have my snack! Thank you so much for the tips!

Twinmom September 6, 2010 - 2:42 PM

I love snacking! 🙂 here are some of mine for home and on the run:

-Greek yogurt
-fruit (berries mostly)
-kale chips
-cheese (string or 1oz pc of sharp cheddar)
-flax & raisan bar
-KIND bars (Statbucks or health food store quick pick)

I travel to different schools for my job and sometimes lunch is in my car between schools But I always leave the house with a cooler packed with clean food and water! Even my kids know to pack snacks and water anytime we leave the house. 🙂

Shante February 3, 2011 - 11:24 AM

What do you think about things like turkey and beef jerky? It can be made at home and is really easy to do. For those times when you want something other than nuts and seeds which I do love. I make a chipotle lime nut mix.

Erika February 3, 2011 - 11:55 AM

That’s what – dehydrated meat? I say go for it. I’m not a huge meat eater, and I don’t advocate excessive intake of it… but its up to each individual to determine the best balance for themselves, IMO. 🙂

Shante February 3, 2011 - 12:08 PM

I only eat meat at dinner and eggs for breakfast. I have two snacks a day a green smoothie in the am but in the afternoon it is usually yogurt, nuts or fruit. Sometimes it gets a bit boring and that is when I start wanting chips or something. I’m thinking having few other healthy options would cut down on that.

Tasha July 20, 2011 - 2:56 AM

how do you feel about raisons?

Erika Nicole Kendall July 20, 2011 - 3:24 AM

Kinda sweet, but thumbs up!

shelle December 8, 2011 - 10:11 PM

what about dried cranberries and other dried fruits…..I love the ones from trader joes .

Belinda April 2, 2013 - 11:21 PM

Too many dried fruits have sugar added—I haven’t found dried cranberries without added sugar, yet. Safe bets are apricots, raisins, plumes, figs, and dates—these usually don’t have added sugar.

It can be easy to over-eat dried fruit because the abensence of water means you don’t fill as fast as with the fresh fruit. My trick is to weigh out a portion, really pace myself when eating it, and drink a lot of water. I think it kinda rehydrates in my stomach, giving me the same fullness as the fresh.

Dried fruits are great; I love the texture and concentrated nutrients (apricots are higher in potassium than bananas). Dried fruits are especially great if you eat seasonally and give up most fruits during the winter.

Jasna April 24, 2012 - 7:57 PM

A mini package of dried plums, apricots or grapes when I feel like something sweet; nuts and a tic-tac plastic case filled with sunflower seeds if I’m bored.
Don’t really feel hungry in between meals, mostly just get thirsty.

I have thought of carrying actual fruit, just for the sake of not always having the same snacks, but feel a bit self-concious about just randomly pulling a banana out of my bag…. >_<

Shani May 1, 2012 - 4:35 PM

Ok so my weakness is late at night after dinner and all im thinking about is ice cream or something bad…LOL I can do good ALL day no cheating but come bedtime I want a treat and that is the worst time b/c im heading to sleep…any sugestions?

Erika Nicole Kendall May 1, 2012 - 8:18 PM

Honestly…if you get the urge, instead of walking towards the ice cream? Walk towards the shower.

Also? Make it easy on yourself. Stop buying the ice cream. If you can’t control yourself when it comes to the treats? Stop bringing them in the house.

Janine December 10, 2012 - 11:04 PM

apples, oranges
carrot sticks
a pre-portioned (ONE SERVING) zip-lock of Kashi cereal
a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter or peanut butter, sometimes with a banana or strawberries
If I’m feeling luxurious, a serving of oatmeal (150 calories, and mad fiber, baby)
and if I can’t beat the sweet… one or two squares of really high quality organic dark chocolate. That stuff is very satisfying, so it’s hard to overeat.

Tyj247 December 19, 2012 - 4:33 PM

I have a confession: I am a snackaholic. It is so bad! My question is, what do you suggest for someone who doesn’t live alone? Meaning, in many of your posts you talk about just not buying something, which is all well and good, but what if you’re not the one buying the bane of your (snackaholic) existence? My mom buys snack foods all the time because she likes them and while she applauds my trying to eat healthy, she doesn’t think that my eating habits should or will affect her shopping habits. And sadly, the placement of said snacks is in the breakfast room, which the room before the kitchen in my house, which causes problems because the kitchen is where I keep my healthy snacks like fruit and Greek yogurt. Let’s just say there’s been plenty of days where I never made it into the kitchen when I had a snack craving….

Erika Nicole Kendall December 19, 2012 - 5:26 PM

You have to find some kind of polite compromise. Ask her if it’s OK if you move her snacks to a space that helps you make better decisions. Tell her you respect her decision to eat how she pleases, but that this is essential to you being able to do what you need to do for you and your health.

In the meantime, if she’s not willing to comply, spend as little time in the house as possible. Go to a library, go for a walk… something. Catch yourself in the act, and go for a walk instead of eating the junk. It sounds stupid, but it’ll get easier.

Q April 2, 2013 - 9:48 PM

Wow thanks for the helpful tips. I was just thinking about this today that I never have any quick snacks available and was looking for suggestions before going grocery shopping.

lauren April 3, 2014 - 10:40 PM

I find myself taking apples with me in my handbag if I’m going out, I’ll often eat as I walk. I always keep fruit on my desk at work as well. Also a ton of frozen bananas and berries in the freezer, whick I can blend up with a splash of milk for fruit ‘gelato’. Sugar is what I crave more than anything so I need sweet substitutes on hand.

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