It’s late. Your work has piled up, but all you can think about is food — not just any food, but pretzels, bagels, chips, cookies, fries, cereal…any sort of carbohydrate really. Taking a bite out of something carby and delicious is soothing…but why?
Carbs stimulate the production of serotonin, a chemical that elevates and regulates your mood. It makes sense for our bodies to crave them in times of stress — we need the comfort and instant mood boost from higher serotonin levels.
Yet our go-to snacks can hurt us more than help us: carbohydrates are often high in salt and sugar and processed. These factors actually increase stress without providing lasting nutrition or energy. Eat too many, and you’ll end up passed out on the couch with a stomach ache and sugar “crash.” Instead of reaching for that bag of pretzels, try these 8 snacks to energize you.
1. Sweet Potatoes
These are great (and yummy) sources of healthy carbs, minerals, potassium, protein, vitamins and iron. Plus, the vitamin A promotes healthy, smooth skin.
2. Whole Grain Toast with Avocado
This snack provides whole grains, vitamins, protein and healthy fat to tame hunger. Eating healthy fats found in avocados, olive oil, nuts and fish has been shown to ward off future cravings.
Nuts are a great blend of healthy protein and fat; however, make sure you choose unsalted or low sodium nuts and eat in moderation, as they are high in calories. Try walnuts, pistachios or almonds.
4. Nut Butter on a Banana
The rich protein and fat source from nut butters, like peanut or almond, paired with the potassium and healthy carb content from a banana makes for a killer combo.
Oatmeal is both satisfying and loaded with healthy, complex carbs (carbs that are digested at a slower rate), fiber and protein. Top it with fruit or nuts for extra flavor, but it’ll still taste great on its own.
Vitamins found in berries combat stress, and the abundant antioxidant content is ideal for keeping you sharp.
Rich in vitamin D, B-12 and nutrients shown to elevate mood, eggs are highly nutritious. Plus, their protein maintains satiety.
8. Greek Yogurt
Calcium and potassium both reduce blood pressure levels and brighten your mood. Greek yogurt is also an excellent source of protein. Stick to a plain flavor to avoid artificial sugars and syrups that are found in the added “fruit.” Instead, add your own fresh fruit!