I used to be a professional snacker. Growing up my mom always called me a 'grazer' and I rarely ate big meals, preferring sugary snacks throughout the day, like most kids I know. But not much changed when I got older, and later on, 'healthier'. Big meals caused me to have a lot of bloating and IBS distress, so I ate little and often, never feeling fully satiated. But what I couldn't figure out was why my 'healthier' food choices were making me hungrier. I was snacking on loads of fruit/fruit juices, veggies and the ever popular 'fat-free' foods. Honestly, it wouldn't be uncommon for me to have had 3 bananas, an apple and a bag of plain rice crackers in a day. And no surprise, I didn't feel good. Sound familiar?
Well it all comes down to our bodies ability to manage blood sugar. Stay with me here. When we consume foods with high concentrations of sugar (from potato chips to rice crackers and chocolate bars to dried fruit) it causes a rapid rise in blood sugar that can result in a rapid and excessive release of insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas). Insulin's job is complex but it ultimately functions as a key and allows the glucose (sugar) to leave the blood stream and enter into cells. However, an excessive amount of insulin can cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low. When this happens, your body thinks it needs more fuel, so the adrenal glands release cortisol to stimulate the production of glucose. This in turn triggers cravings which make us hungry so that we eat and bring our blood sugar levels back to normal. Now, if you eat another high glycemic snack or meal, the process repeats - over and over again, which can lead to hypoglycemia, insulin resistant cells (diabetes), adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression, inflammation and obesity.
Don't worry, there are ways to avoid this without giving up all carbs!
1. Add FAT! Make sure you are consuming fats with your meals and snacks - they decrease the rate of absorption and keep your blood sugar more level without spiking insulin levels. They make food more satisfying and fill you up for longer too!
2. Add FIBRE! Not only will it fill you up, but it also helps with digestion, reduces the rate of absorption and helps with elimination.
3. Choose wisely. Seriously consider limiting your consumption of refined and high glycemic index foods. Some people are a lot more sensitive to sugars than others, so monitor how you feel when you eat these foods and try swapping them for less processed, low glycemic foods instead.
With that said, I still love to snack and I LOVE this dip! It is definitely my go-to. It's super simple to make and goes with everything. Throw it on a salad bowl, use as a sauce for fish or chicken, or have it with some veggies and crackers as a super balanced and nourishing snack! It's full of healthy fats, fibre and flavour. Not to mention it's a real crowd pleaser at parties!
ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP
3/4 cup raw almonds
5 large roasted red peppers (or one 500ml jar)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt (to taste)
Lay almonds on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 375 for 10mins until lightly toasted. Allow to cool. If using roasted red peppers from a jar, drain off any liquid and pat dry. Add peppers, toasted almonds and spices to a food processor and blend. Adjust spices as needed. Store in the fridge for up to a week.