Tuesday, July 7, 2009

in defense of snacking.

snackattack

Well, I haven't been up to much the last week or so- I was laid up with a snuffly cold (that I think I'm finally getting over) and then friends had birthdays and I had a wedding to shoot and phew- wasn't 4th of July fun? God, I love hot dogs and setting stuff on fire.

Anyway, uh... SNACKS! The virtues of snacking have been lost on me over the years. Having a kid has dramatically altered my eating habits in a variety of ways, but the most important has been that I've finally learned the importance of snacking. Not like, sneaking a candy bar on your lunch break, or "Whew, I'm hungry! Let's pop into Taco Bell and get like 3 soft tacos!" but like, the kind of snacks that sustain you between meals and don't make you feel like garbage.

I'm a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic. I know that most people wah-wah-wahhhhh at the words "self-diagnosed," but whatever, I don't need to have blood sugar monitoring in a doctor's office to tell me that I become a complete basketcase when my blood sugar plummets, it's really, REALLY apparent to the people around me. You can ask my close friends, my coworkers, my poor, dear, unbelievably understanding husband- any of them will tell you to shove a cookie in my mouth and run screaming when I start freaking out.

It starts innocently enough- usually I won't even realize I'm actually HUNGRY- I'll just start to feel weird. Then, when I start to get a little shaky and realize, "Oh shit, I need to eat, like RIGHT NOW." I begin attempting to formulate some kind of snack idea, but I start getting flustered and suddenly NOTHING SOUNDS GOOD, and I CAN'T EAT SOMETHING IF IT DOESN'T SOUND GOOD, AND OH MY GOD I NEED TO EAT RIGHT NOW AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON! In really dramatic instances, I start to get chills and I get really dizzy- I've even convinced myself that I'm coming down with the flu (my hypochondria might be the subject of another post) because I felt so sick, only to feel perfectly fine about 15 minutes after eating my first bite of food.

So, you get the idea. Needless to say, when I was pregnant, (and hungry EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY) I was not very fun to be around. Eventually, I had my kid, slowly weaned myself off of junk food snacks, and learned to keep my house stocked with healthy stuff. I started carrying a jar of almonds & raisins with me in my purse EVERYWHERE I GO, and I learned that my son turns into a cranky pile of crap when he doesn't snack, either. So, my day goes sort of like this:

8 a.m.: Breakfast!
10-10:30 a.m.: SNACK!
12ish: Lunch!
3p.m.: SNACK!
5-6ish: Dinner!

and then usually another small snack around 8 or 9 if I stay up late.

The morning snack is usually just a handful of crackers, a piece of fruit, or some nuts and raisins, but the AFTERNOON SNACK is the most important snack of the day for me. The afternoon snack can MAKE OR BREAK me by dinnertime, seriously. If I don't have a nibble around 3 or 4, by the time my husband gets home from work around 5 or 6, I'm usually flying around the kitchen, on the verge of tears, trying to figure out how to get shit done in time to eat dinner, and it is NOT pretty. There are so many times that he has had to pry a frying pan out of my hyperventilating grip, steer me away from the kitchen and quickly pull together dinner, it's not even funny.

So anyway, keeping nuts, fruit, and cheese in the house at all times saves me on a regular basis. It keeps me from freaking out and running to the store for a candy bar or something gross in a package, it keeps me from losing my shit on my poor unsuspecting family, and I feel like almost everyone could benefit from a good afternoon snack.

Keeping it under control, y'all.

34 comments:

Rachael said...

Whoever rags on you for hypoglycemia self-diagnosis can get me, too, because it was actually your post a while back about crashing and burning for lack of a planned-out dinner option that made me realize I probably have the same problem.

I've jokingly called it "gettin' hangry" for a while but never really thought about it being a real thing. I'm basically the same way, though—if I don't have a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack, I just about loose my mind. And it's pretty much been that way for me my whole life, now that I think about it, so it's weird that I've only recently made the connection between having snacks and not losing my ever-loving mind between meals.

So thanks for that, and the recipes!

Meggy_FFW said...

I, too, am pro-snack, and I love the photography in this post because it reminds me of all the great things we can eat when we're in need of mini-sustenance. Thanks!

lillie said...

yes! you laid it all out there perfectly. from the self-diagnosed blood sugar issues to the joys of balanced snacking. yum!

PS that photo makes me want a little bowl of berries and some chunks of cheese RIGHT NOW.

stacy said...

Minus the kid, that sounds exactly like me. I am always confused by people who don't understand how I can be too hungry to eat simply because I am too hungry to figure out what to eat. One of the most important tenets of our relationship is that my husband is to keep me fed at all times.

Nancy said...

My husband and I are on a low carb "diet", our favorite snack is almonds and walnuts, cheese and strawberries, I still haven't gotten tired of them yet :)

fitbird said...

Gotta love the snackins!! Your hypoglycemia sounds a bit severe, though, almost exactly like mine used to be. I finally went to a naturopath who tested my blood and found out I had a mild hyperactive thyroid. Homeopathic meds helped make it normal again, and no more crazy blood sugar madness! I totally used to get sick after like 2.5 hours of not eating, and it sometimes led to migraines, too.

Even though I'm "cured" I still love a good snack-ack-ack-ack-ack! These days it is mostly fresh fruit and veg, but if in the presence of some tasty cheese or nuts I ain't gonna say no!!

barbara said...

Teehee, my mom is the same way.
It's actually hilarious how quickly she turns back into her good old self once I do get that cookie in her mouth :)

squirrelbread said...

Amen! I can't get through the day without my snacks. And as a dietitian, I am all for the six small meals per day regimen!!

Cheers,

*Heather*

Blue is Bleu said...

I guess I'm a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic too because I shut down if I don't eat something every few hours. I go pale, I get shaky and I feel extremely weak. Lately I've been snacking on berries and almonds quite a bit... and watermelon too if I can remember to buy it hehe :)

suthrncan said...

I buy the huge bags of nuts from Costco and I toast a few handfuls a week and keep them in a jar. I eat some along with either some dried fruit, cheese or on top of salads and it feels decedent. They're good with wine too!

emily garrett said...

i agree so much with your hypoglycemia self-diagnosis! a few months ago i started taking cinnamon in capsule form, or adding it to my oatmeal/dessert and it's supposed to help people with blood sugar problems level out. along with light snacks throughout the day, it really seems to help! here's a link with medical info to back it up

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Cinnamon-again-linked-to-better-blood-sugar

word to the wise: if you take the capsules, take before bed so you don't burp cinnamon flavor all morning! unless you like that, of course.

Sarah Keenan said...

Brilliant ! So so true.
Snacks Rock,
Sarah

Irene said...

My husband is the same way, exactly the same. Everyone makes fun of him for being "self-diagnosed," but dude, he's a monster when he's hungry and he really can't help it. Over the past few years, we've been getting a handle on things. He eats every 2-3 hours, things like carrots and peanut butter, cucumbers, fruit, nuts, cottage cheese, granola, etc., and it solves all the problems. And, when he's that hungry, he will eat any veggies I cut up for him, so that's a plus! :)

Cate said...

I turn into a complete basket case when I don't eat for 4 hours. I think 90% of the fights I have with my husband end with him handing me a piece of toast, me eating it, and then realizing that all is fine in the world once again.

Lisa-Marie said...

It's 8.15am here, and now I want raspberries and cheese!

I snack regularly too. Sometimes I am bad, and have some cake, often, I have a small cup of soup. sometimes I have fruit. But, it is well known to my friends and colleagues that If I don't eat every 3 hours, I am not fun!

I have, In the past, been diagnosed as 'Borderline diabetic' or as having ' diabetic tendencies' Really what I am is hypoglycemic. The diabetes bit comes from it being strongly hereditary in my family.

You enjoy your snacks!

Leah said...

Totally true. Also, cheese, I would like to say, is one of the best foods in the world, especially for in-between snacks/meals. Fills you up, lets you feel like you just ate something tasty instead of something "healthy", and just generally awesome.

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

lisa-marie, one of my customers at work has diabetes and when i told him that i was hypoglycemic, he told me that his doctor refers to that as "pre-diabetes" which TERRIFIED ME, and, i think- inspired me to keep my snacks as healthy as possible. i tested as VERY CLOSE to having gestational diabetes when i was pregnant and ended up having a whole slew of other health problems related to my pregnancy, so now i'm really committed to keeping it healthy for the most part.

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

leah- i totally agree. i've never really been able to get on board with the whole vegan thing because cheese is one of the few things i can nibble on quickly that actually FILLS ME UP for awhile and doesn't make me feel like crap.

karen said...

this sort of thing is always good to share, because i think blood sugar issues affect everyone at least a little, and the people it affects strongly are often unaware of why they feel the way they do.

so anyway, thanks for posting this.

s. said...

Holy crap. I have the EXACT same eating schedule. So glad to hear I'm not the only one! But, man does it suck. Especially since I did go to the doctor to get tested and they said, "nope! just normal biological fluctuations." Really? You try having to shove trailmix down your throat at 9:55am since all work meetings are scheduled for 10am and see how normal you feel.

Rachel said...

I work a ten hour day, and I've found that having snacks around is the ONLY way to make it through without freaking out. I always have yogurt, granola, fruit or cottage cheese on hand here, and I occasionally make coffee for the afternoon - so long as my tummy is happy, I can work! if it ISN'T happy, there is no priority - sorry, boss - NO priority greater than getting some snack.

I know plenty of people that say that they regularly forget to eat, and the feeling of hunger, like, doesn't occur to them. this blooowwws my mind. these are people who eat well & have never had any sort of eating disorders. I am definitely in the same camp as the folks above, that I haaaave to eat every three or four hours, or I'll freak out.

another really great quality of a afternoon/evening snack is that it temporarily takes the freakout focus off your stomach, so you can take all the time you need to make an awesome meal, & without snacking on the components of the meal-to-be!

Jennywenny said...

Yes, I always treat myself to a piece of fruit in the morning and a healthy treat in the afternoon, usually home-made like a little muffin or an energy bar or something. Its the only thing that stops me going bananas at work!

The Leftoverist said...

I could have written this!! All of my husband and I's fights are right before dinner. The 3:00 snack (when I remember) has definitely helped. I am going to have him read this so he sees I am not alone. Maybe there are other partners out there interested in a support group for folks like us?!

ahalya said...

It is a sad, sad world where snacking needs to be defended. Snacking should be a basic human right! Let the people snack!

In other news, I am in love with your blog. I'm pretty sure I've read every single post.

Oakley Rhodes said...

haha love the "Too Much Information" tag. Snack eaters unite!

Eliana said...

I'm right there with you on this one. As weird as this may sound to some, snacking is the key to not overeating.

thewindhover said...

YES! I am a big advocate for healthy, protein-packed snacks... favourites being sliced apple or pears with cheese, handfuls of nuts, half an avocado (with a spoon and a crack of pepper)... and it really goes on and on. Love the blog and photos as always x

jenny k said...

hi alicia, i am totes in love with your blog. i wandered over from damnportlanders one day because your comments always have just the right balance of sense and snark, and i am now hooked on reading your recipes, even though i can't eat a lot of them cuz i can't have gluten. oh wells. but you reawakened a love for poached eggs in me that just won't quit. it's a little insane. i am begging my friend to buy some chickens as we speak.

anyways, i have reactive hypoglycemia pretty bad (i have to eat mad protein every 2 hours or i get really stupid sick), and the way it works is your body is producing too much insulin and eventually (like yeeeeaars down the line) it will get tired and it won't be able to produce any insulin anymore, and that is why your customer mentioned pre-diabetes. you can stave this off by following the low glycemic index diet. this will conserve your body's ability to produce insulin. let me tell you, it is not fun, it means cutting out sugar in a big way, and i have issues with it since i already have to restrict my diet so much with the gluten thing. but agave is pretty low on the index so it's a good sweetener to use and it tastes just like sugar, and the snacks you are already eating are straight out of the low g.i. handbook, although they do tell you to be careful of fruit (it's full of it's own kind of sugar). anyways, if you ever want to become a diagnosed hypoglycemic you can borrow my blood glucose monitor (with new needles, etc), and my low g.i. cookbooks. i live in nw.

Kristina Smith said...

I'm hypoglycemic too. And this was like the blogpost describing my life! Only, not only do I get the chills and turn into superbitch, but if it goes too long I also get the worst headache ever, feel weak, am unable to formulate a sentence let alone pull something edible together, and in very rare cases, pass out. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. So, Snack On!

Sarah said...

Truth! If I don't have my afternoon snack I start getting really irritated really fast. Today I freaked out about someone drying my clothes without asking, then I ate a piece of 90% chocolate and had some ice water. All better! Who also would have thought that I'd start losing weight by eating more often? Crazy.

Sprouted Kitchen said...

LOVE snacks!!!!! I support your self diagnosis

the eternal student said...

Wow... your post has done a superb job of putting into words the exact sequence of events I go through as my sugar drops. I don't have diabetes, nor am I prediabetic, as per my endocrinologist. But, if I don't eat something at least every three hours, watch out! I almost never see it coming either, until I realize I'm already sliding down the sugar hill. Then urgency sets in. If I don't feed the beast in a timely fashion, I am blessed with a headache that lasts the rest of the day. Why is it that we suddenly lose our appetites when our sugar is at its lowest? Nothing seems tasty enough! Thanks for writing this, it was kind of a relief to know this isn't totally unusual.

Meg said...

like yourself and the many other commenters, I have hypoglycemia. it got so bad i figured i had better go get tested for it and see if that is really my problem or something worse. if anyone can afford the blood work, it might help you understand how low your blood sugar actually gets. mine went as low as 39 in the test, which is like, almost brain dead.

for everyone: be careful! most recently i was trapped in a long car ride without snacks or a nearby rest stop, and i blacked out. it happened in my earlier life in high school, when our lunches were waaaaay late in the day. the timing of meals is so important for people like us. don't mess with our sacred snacking!!

oh, and doctors wont say this explicitly but hypoglycemia and driving do not mix. don't operate heavy machinery when you have an attack. can you imagine having an attack while driving? most people just don't understand. but it's serious!

Maggie said...

This pretty much describes me perfectly. I actually went through the blood sugar testing deal, only for them to tell me my blood sugar was normal. So for five years since, the same mood plummets, shaking so bad I can't drive, and even fainting if I don't eat. Whatevs doc!

LOVE your blog - named you one of my "blog crushes," even.