Snack Smarter, Feel Better: Simple Swaps for a Healthier You

food as medicine gut healing Apr 22, 2024

For the Food Lovers

Are you a snacker? I sure am! My husband Michael jokes that I eat five meals a day (I promise I don't). But I do tend to get hungrier than most people, and I've always been this way. I'm pretty picky about food, and when I'm hungry, I need to eat right away! My mom told me I never ate baby food—I always insisted on real food. She also said one of my favorite things was going to the grocery store with my Big Momma and pointing excitedly at everything, saying 'Look! Look!' 

As I got a little older, I remember visiting a new babysitter and being hungry after dinner. They told me the kitchen was closed! I was so shocked that I cried and told my parents, who never sent me back there. My sister insists that whenever I got hungry, I'd cry—haha, I kinda remember this! Michael claims I still do, but do not believe him!

The point is, I love food just as much as I love being healthy. So, I've had to come up with solutions that support both of these passions! Over the years, I've learned the healing power of food, especially when it comes to managing my gut issues and endometriosis, where inflammation is a key underlying issue. What we eat can either worsen inflammation or help alleviate it.  If you're a snacker and looking for healthier alternatives, then this blog post is just for you!


The Problem

The truth is, most of our snacks today are highly processed, which means our bodies struggle to break them down. My rule of thumb is simple: If you don't recognize an ingredient, neither does your body. So, ditch it! Packaged snacks may be convenient and accessible, but they can be loaded with sugar, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial dyes, all of which contribute to chronic inflammation, hormone imbalances, and leaky gut. This combination of factors can aggravate your endo symptoms. It's not just limited to endometriosis—chronic inflammation plays a huge role in most disorders! This includes, but is not limited to: thyroid disorders, anxiety, depression, obesity, arthritis, heart disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), chronic kidney disease and more.

Another important point: Please don't be fooled by the sneaky "healthy" items out there! Many snacks have health claims on the packaging, but do yourself a favor, don’t believe the hype. What good is something being gluten-free and vegan if it still contains highly inflammatory and toxic ingredients?  I will do a blog post in the near future how to easily identify these things, but for now, keep it simple and try some of the healthy snack ideas I'll share later in this article.


6 Tips for Healthy Snacking Success 

Before diving into snack ideas, I want to share my top tips for mastering healthy snacking! Knowing what's good for you is one thing, but without proper execution, it won't make a difference. Review these tips to set yourself up for success!

1. Preparation is Key!

Ever heard the saying 'if you fail to plan then plan to fail'? This is oh so true when it comes to snacking. We often reach for snacks because they're convenient, so make healthy options convenient for yourself! At the start of each week, prep your snacks so they're ready to grab-and-go. Investing just 15 minutes or less to do this will save you time during the week and help you stick with your health goals, so you won't be tempted by easier, less nourishing options.

2. Eat Real Food

My snacks may seem real simple because they are. I like to eat real food!!! What do I mean eat real food? You know, food that has no labels, is made of just a few or one ingredient, comes from the earth? That kinda real food. Like apples, walnuts, grapes, carrots. Eating real food gives your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. It helps keep your energy up, supports digestion, and reduces inflammation.  As a bonus, by eating more natural foods, you're actually retraining your brain to desire those indulgent, ultra processed foods less. Win-win! I literally crave fruits and veggies now.

3. Portion Control

Just like with a big bag of chips, if I have a large bag of grapes, I’ll crush them all! That's why I strongly advise portioning out your snacks—out of sight, out of mind! Make it harder to go back for more. Even though these foods support your health, I don't want you to fall into mindless snacking and consuming excess calories when you're not even hungry. Stick to about 1 cup for fruits and veggies, 2-4 tablespoons for nuts, seeds, and dips like guacamole and hummus, and 1/2 cup for protein sources such as fish, poultry, eggs, beef, and beans.

4. Keep it Balanced

Food is made up of three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Combining all three in your meals and snacks helps maintain balanced blood sugar levels, preventing crashes, excessive hunger, and fat storage. This balance is especially crucial for women with endometriosis and PCOS. Try to include a little of each macronutrient in your snacks—just carbs alone aren't enough. Eating carbs solo can throw off your hunger cues and make you crave more, it spikes your insulin and leads to increase fat storage and inflammation.

 5. Invest in Storage Containers

Try to avoid plastic if possible. They contain hormone disruptors, leach harmful chemicals and are linked to inflammation in the body. As women with endometriosis, this is especially important. Endo affects our immune system causing us to have heightened sensitivity to environmental triggers. Here are my recommendations:

  • Ello: I have had these for years and they are still in great shape. They come in cute colors and are durable glass containers. 

Ello Mixed Meal Prep Set

  • Caraway: I purchased this set this year. It is a bit pricey but the quality and functionality are amazing. 

Glass Food Storage Set

6. Buy a Water Bottle

Yes, we're talking about snacks, but did you know hunger can be a symptom of dehydration? Sometimes we just need to drink more water! Choose a glass bottle if possible. I recommend a bottle with a straw for easy sipping, but if you're on the go, choose a bottle that fits in your bag. Or you can always get both! Here are my favorites

W&P Glass Water Bottle

Stanley Insulated Tumbler with Straw


My Top Healthy & Tasty Snack Picks

Here they are! Some of my favorite go-to's.You will see you can mix and match the ingredients to best cater to what you like! 

1. Apples + Almond Butter

This snack is like a power-up for your day, that will keep you feeling full and energized. It's a delicious treat that also happens to be good for you!

Portion out 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter (yes, measure it!), whether it's almond, peanut, or cashew, but make sure it has clean ingredients. Avoid labels that have added sugar or hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. Slice up one organic apple and sprinkle cinnamon on top for an extra flavorful twist. Opting for organic apples when possible is a smart choice, especially since apples are part of the dirty dozen list by EWG. You can easily find these clean ingredients at Trader Joe's for a great price.


2. Mini Pepper Hummus Boats

It's a snack game changer! Simply cut the stems off mini peppers, slice them in half, and fill each half with about 1 teaspoon of red pepper hummus. For an extra flavor kick, sprinkle on some Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning. While store-bought hummus works well, be cautious of canola oil in the ingredients. I suggest aiming for 8-10 boats (4-5 peppers) for a satisfying snack. The vitamin C from the peppers and protein from the hummus, provide a satisfying and nutritious snack option that supports immune function and helps keep you energized throughout the day.


3. Fruit + Nuts

A simple yet satisfying snack that lets you choose your favorite fruit (1 whole fruit or 1 cup diced fruit) paired with nuts (10-15 or 1/4 cup). Some of my favorite pairings are:

  • blackberries + cashews + coconut
  • grapes + almonds
  • orange slices + raspberries + pecans

The juicy sweetness of the fruit combined with the crunch of the nuts creates the perfect balanced snack combo! I recommend switching up the type of fruit or nuts you choose each week to enhance diversity, which supports a healthy gut microbiome.



4. Nut Butter Rice Cakes + Berries

Simply spread your favorite nut butter (such as almond or cashew butter) onto a rice cake and top it off with a generous handful of fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. So good! As stated above, be sure to use a clean nut butter (one without added sugar or oils) and same for your rice cake. This snack provides a winning combo of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants! Excellent for satisfying cravings and fueling your body with essential nutrients.


5. Canned Fish + Cucumber Slices

Choose a Canned Fish of your choice (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna) and pair it with cucumbers, veggie of your choice or gluten-free crackers. For added flavor, I like to drizzle the cucumbers with a teaspoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of Trader Joe's green goddess seasoning, though this is optional as I also enjoy them plain. When choosing your canned fish, check the ingredients and avoid canola or vegetable oils - it's best with extra virgin olive oil. You can find this at Trader Joes or Wild Planet brand on Amazon and in health food stores. This snack is rich in Omega 3's, which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties, making them ideal for alleviating symptoms associated with endo, like pelvic pain and digestive issues.


6. Veggie Sticks & Guac 

Slice up your favorite vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, or cucumber, and dip them in homemade or store-bought guacamole for a crunchy and creamy snack that's fresh, colorful, and easy to make. This nutrient-rich option is packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats from the avocado. It supports overall health, boosts energy levels, and reduces inflammation.  Remember to go easy on the portion for guacamole, aiming for about 1/4 cup, to ensure optimal balance and portion control.


7. Edamame + Sea Salt

Enjoy steamed edamame sprinkled with sea salt for a simple and satisfying snack. I purchased mine from Trader Joe's and divided the bag into three portions using small containers, adding Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and Mrs. Dash Everything Seasoning for an extra burst of flavor. This snack is not only delicious but also a healthy choice, as edamame is packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, promoting satiety, supporting muscle health, and providing a nutritious boost to your snack routine.


8. Boiled Egg + Fruits and Veggies

Pairing a boiled egg with your choice of fruit and veggie sticks creates a nutrient-dense and balanced snack option. I added Everything Seasoning to my boiled egg - try it out, or you can use pink himalayan salt. This satisfying combination offers a mix of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day. This snack is the perfect example of how simple, whole-food choices can support your health goals and provide delicious alternatives to processed snacks!


Your Action Steps

There you have it, my top healthy & healing snack picks! When you're doing your weekly grocery shopping, pick out 2-3 snack options to enjoy throughout the week. After you get home, take just 15 minutes to portion them out for easy grab-and-go access, setting yourself up for success in the days ahead. Keep things interesting by trying a new snack each week or mixing up your selections to ensure your snacks remain exciting and enjoyable.


In with the Good Out with the Bad

I challenge you to do a pantry detox! Clear out the processed snacks and boxed foods from your home. It may seem extreme, but so is prioritizing your health and well-being! The goal is to feel good so you can enjoy your life, and if cutting back on chips helps with that, why not go for it?

I'm not saying you can never have your favorite chips again—just keep them out of the house! Make it a little more challenging to access them. If you do decide to indulge, opt for smaller, single-serve bags from convenience stores rather than the large, cost-effective ones.

For parents, I understand you're thinking of your kids. Start introducing them to some of the new snacks mentioned above! If they find a new favorite, gradually replace their current snacks with the healthier options. Be patient and keep trying, it can take multiple introductions to a food for kids to like them!


Keep Exploring, Keep Expanding!

Now you have the tools you need for simple, tasty, healthy snacking. Keep trying new combinations of the snacks mentioned above—discovering what you like best will grow your healthy options database and make it easier to stick to your health goals.

The benefits of these snacks go beyond just being healthy. They are HEALING. They can significantly reduce inflammation in your body, enhance your energy levels, and even uplift your mood! For women dealing with endometriosis, we can use these foods to support our body, rather than eating snacks that do us harm and exacerbate our symptoms. Now that you're aware, you have the opportunity to make empowered choices and prioritize what feels best for you. ♡

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with someone who might also benefit! If you have any questions, concerns, or topics you'd like me to explore further, feel free to reach out. I'm always here to continue growing, learning, helping, and sharing! 



Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this website/blog is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not intended to replace consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of information provided on this website/blog. Reliance on any information provided by this website/blog is solely at your own risk


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