Dear women, please stop eating almonds.
OK let me elaborate. Please quit eating almonds as your only snack, or as a snack at all. If I’m being 1000% honest, almonds are borderline a topping, not a snack.
There is one common trend that I see in nearly all of my female clients’ food diaries, and that is the incorporation of almonds as a stand-alone snack. Sea salt almonds, smoked almonds, chocolate covered almonds, every variety of almond under the rainbow. I have seen them all!
Why women? Why is it that anytime we decide to plunge into healthier eating, almonds become a staple of our diet? I too was once an avid almond consumer. My first encounter with the almighty almond was in my teenage years while reading one of my mom’s women’s fitness magazines (remember physical magazines??). There was a little blurb that went something like… “Almonds are a protein-packed, fat-burning snack!” In another magazine I distinctly remember a celebrity trainer recommending women consume ELEVEN almonds when those pesky late afternoon hunger pangs hit. ELEVEN ALMONDS!? WHY!? In recent years fitness magazines have moved online and social media has opened up a whole new avenue of information in the nutrition sphere, yet not much has changed. Unfortunately, I still see posts from fitness “inspo” accounts encouraging women to INDULGE in a whopping 1 ounce serving of almonds when hunger strikes. I am low-key starting to believe this whole thing was a conspiracy setup by the almond council. So, if I suddenly drop off the face of the earth after this blog is posted, you know who did it.
You may feel my righteous indignation for almonds is a little misplaced…you would be right. The eternally popular almond simply represents a much bigger issue plaguing the western female diet: many women do not know how to feed themselves properly. Women have been chronically misinformed. We have been told to drink green juice for breakfast, a meal replacement shake at lunch, eat exactly 23 almonds for a snack, a salad for dinner, and go to bed hungry. Then we happily spread the word about our new, trendy diet to our friends. All the while we are unaware our new diet does not support our health, our hormones, or any efforts of substantial weight loss or muscle gain. If we were focused on creating snacks that support our goals, 9 times out of 10 a few almonds would not be appropriate.
Almonds are not appropriate because they are not a balanced snack. Don’t get me wrong, almonds are pretty mighty nuts. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and magnesium; and for a fat source, they contain a high level of fiber and protein. Let’s not forget how almond milk has forever #blessed the lives of many lactose intolerant peoples, myself included. However, I have found that for most women, almonds do not provide the satiating effect a snack SHOULD provide. After consuming a serving size of almonds as a snack, I typically see one of three things happen with my clients:
Scenario A – The individual is not full, so they consume more almonds. Usually 1-2 additional servings, which is barely satisfying, and delivers a major punch to their fat macro goal and overall calorie count.
Keep in mind: 3 servings of almonds = 510 calories and 45g of Fat. This is the caloric equivalent of a full meal.
Scenario B – The individual is not full, so they consume an additional, unplanned snack; often settling for a “quick and close” option like a doughnut from the break room, fast food, or a bag of potato chips.
Scenario C – The individual continues on hungry, soon the consistent hunger turns into frustration, and somewhere down the road the frustration results in abandoning the nutrition plan altogether.
At Odyssey, I encourage clients to take a more balanced approach to snacking. What does a balanced snack look like? Ideally it involves a lean protein, complex carbohydrate, veggie or fruit, and a healthy fat. Below are two examples of a balanced snack, which includes a girl’s best friend…the all-powerful almond.
Blueberry Almond Greek Yogurt
¾ cup (170g) Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt
½ cup (65g) blueberries
0.5 ounces (14g) oven roasted almonds
1 packet SweetLeaf Stevia
In a small bowl or mason jar, combine Greek yogurt and stevia.
Mix in blueberries and top with almonds.
Chickpea Crunch Snack Bowl
⅓ cup (84g) canned chickpeas
⅓ cup (50g) grape tomatoes, halved
⅓ cup (40g) cucumber, peeled and diced
0.5 ounces (14g) slivered almonds
1 tsp. (4 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Onion powder and Mediterranean seasoning to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir thoroughly, and serve.
Struggling to reach your goals? Been eating your weight in almonds for years? Need help in learning how to balance your meal? I would love to help. Cruise on over to the “Contact” tab and shoot me a message!
Photo credit: 1. alleksana 2. Karolina Grabowska