For many years of my life, afternoons meant cross country or track practice, and then in later years, coaching. While I prefer running in the mornings, these times in the afternoons get to me to say the least. While many days I try to go for a walk in the late afternoon– or when my pool heats up a few more degrees I will swim– still I am often hungry at 3:00 in the afternoon.
It's a challenge for me because I really want snack food: hand me the chips. I used to have cheese and crackers. Or some cookies. But that's not what I need; my body is crying out for protein, satisfying protein. I need something with a little fat to keep me full until dinner (but not fill me up so I'm full at dinner).
I will be the first to admit that there are things I don't want to eat because I'd really rather have something I shouldn't (like cookies and chips). And that's why if you come to my house, you won't find any chips and the cookies will be made with healthy funky ingredients. I made my fiancé take the last box of Cheez-Its to the school where he works so I won't be tempted. I don't have the self control I used to so it's a battle with myself to find foods I want to eat, that taste good, and leave me full until dinner.
I will eat nuts, low sugar fruits like berries, whole crackers (like Wasa), hummus, black bean dip, and veggies. And I make sure I drink water to fill me up.
It's not easy but I know that the more healthy types of food I keep in my house, the less likely I am to drift and eat something I don't need (or makes me feel bad). The key is keeping snacks around that are healthy and having vegetables cut so you don't have to take the time for it. The more work you need to do to make a snack, the less likely you are to prepare and eat it. I also try to have hummus or some other healthy bean dip in the refrigerator at all times.
The photo above is the roasted beet white bean hummus from Marth Stewart's Clean Slate book. The recipe is here. Don't let the idea of eating beets turn you off: they have many tasty uses!