Benefits of Healthy Snacking

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Grace Derocha - A Healthier Michigan Podcast



About the Show
On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified health coach, diabetes care and education specialist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Together, they uncover the hidden benefits of snacking. Learn how smaller meals can help supplement your diet and boost nutrient intake.
“The first thing with healthy snacking is, it is a way to get good nutrition into the body. If you are lacking in something, if you’re trying to balance your macronutrients, if you’re trying to get more fiber in because you’re not getting enough…There’s ways to incorporate things. I always tell people, think of a variety of food groups.” – Grace Derocha
In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:
  • The goal of healthy snacking
  • Understanding hunger cues
  • Identifying your nutrient needs
  • How many snacks are too many?
  • The best way to prepare and transport foods

Listen on

Chuck Gaidica: This is A Healthier Michigan Podcast, episode 49. Coming up, we discussed the benefits of healthy snacking. Go figure, who thought there was such a thing? And how can we all start snacking smarter?
Chuck Gaidica: Welcome to A Healthier Michigan Podcast, the podcast dedicated to navigating how we can improve our health and well-being through small healthy habits we can start implementing right now. I’m your host, Chuck Gaidica. Every other week we sit down with a certified health expert from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and we dive into topics covering fitness, and today some nutrition, and a whole lot more.
Chuck Gaidica: On this episode, again, we’re discussing the benefits of healthy snacking and how we really can start snacking smarter. With me today, registered dietitian for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Grace Derocha. Hello.
Grace Derocha: Hello.
Chuck Gaidica: How are you?
Grace Derocha: Doing well. Excited to talk about this topic.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, it’s a good one, and it’s a fun one, and I know that every time I sit down with you, and I know that you’re on the go all the time. You’re blogging, you’ve also got so many great credentials, certified diabetes educator, a certified health coach, but you’re also an on the go person. You’re an on the go mom, you’re a wife, you’re taking care of home. But every time I look up you’re in Cadillac or you’re in Grand Rapids or you’re with me. And I think that’s one of the arch enemies of any kind of snacking idea, is that we’re always on the go. Aren’t we?
Grace Derocha: Yes, it’s very tricky. I think people often think of a snack as a treat food, and those are usually foods that are higher in added sugar or higher in fat. But if we are smart about our snacking, and I like to call it snacking with purpose, we can actually fulfill our bodies with some really good nutrition.
Chuck Gaidica: So even though hunger hits us all, and let me just ask, because I can’t say that I’ve ever seen you as the person that brings in the Yeti and you open it up and there’s the bag of cashews and the special water of this. Maybe you bring that stuff and I just don’t see it all the time.
Grace Derocha: I usually have a bar in my bag.
Chuck Gaidica: You do. Okay.
Grace Derocha: Some kind of bar. Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: What kind of bar? What would you have that’s healthy?
Grace Derocha: So I actually have a Kind Bar in my bag right now.
Chuck Gaidica: Those are good.
Grace Derocha: As an example. But it just depends. One thing I actually do, especially when it’s cold out, is right now I actually have a bag of pears and not a bag of apples, and I have a box of some kind of bar always in the car. So then I avoid making not the smartest snacking decision if I get hungry. It’s hard to do that in the summer, but in the winter it works out really nicely.
Chuck Gaidica: But when you think of snacking truly, is it because of your education and background? Is it because of the way you’re wired, you’re thinking of it more as fuel than you are, just let me grab some peanut M&M’s and got to go.
Grace Derocha: Well, yes. Most of the time obviously as a dietitian and a dietitian mom. I’m always thinking about how to fuel my kids properly, how to fuel myself, but I am not the food police. I love a good peanut M&M.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, and that’s probably a bad choice because they’re not awful. I mean, it’s not the worst choice you could make, right?
Grace Derocha: We’ve talked about, I never liked to label foods as good or bad. There’s better nutrition, and there’s things that you don’t want to have as much of. But as soon as we start to label, give everything that this is good, this is bad, then it’s not the best relationship with food, nor is it the best relationship with your body. And we always want to keep that.
Chuck Gaidica: So let’s go to the good side of this, right? There is a healthy benefit to healthy snacking. Can you give us some idea of what those benefits are in our everyday life?
Grace Derocha: Absolutely. So the first thing with healthy snacking is, it is a way to get good nutrition into the body. So if you are lacking in something, if you’re trying to balance your macronutrients, if you’re trying to get more fiber in because you’re not getting enough, I think I’ve told you this before, the average American only gets about 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day, but we really need closer to 40 grams a day for good gut health. Most people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their food, and oftentimes turn to supplements. But if you do eat healthy, most of the time you could get, that’s why it’s called a supplement because it’s supplementing your diet. So there’s definitely ways to incorporate things, and I always tell people, think of a variety of food groups. Think about getting some things in during a snack time that you might not really have that often. Maybe use a snack time to change it up, and try something new.
Chuck Gaidica: Well, you’re talking about things like sliced apples and stuff like that. When you think about it, the old adage that we’ve all grown up with, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. The notion of how much fiber, water, I know there’s sugar in it, but the goodness that’s in an apple, even if you’re using a little peanut butter on the side, holy cow, it’s all in its own little package. Got to go.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, nature’s fast food. That is real. I use that all the time. I tell my kids think that nature’s fast food, I mean they know is fruits or vegetables. That’s where it’s at. It’s literally made for us to take and enjoy and have all that yummy good nutrition.
Chuck Gaidica: And I’ve heard you talk about this, and there’s this old thing that I keep in my mind, it’s just one of the perfect pictures that I’ve got and it relates to calorie density. If you take an apple and because I’ve always been on a diet my whole life, I’m on two diets because I don’t get enough food with one. But I look at an apple. 90 calories, right? And I’ve learned from you. If you compare that to this little pile of cookies, think of how much that apple is filling you up. Maybe it is your in between meal snack, right, but it’s good and it’s doing a lot of good for you.
Grace Derocha: That is honestly one of the best ways to look at snacking. Looking at, comparing a few different things, and knowing that the apple in this example is going to be the better thing to put into your body.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, so what kind of boost am I going to get from a Kind Bar or from… I’m trying to supplement with something with a little more fiber, or again, our example of an apple. What do I get that boosts my system?
Grace Derocha: So an apple, obviously there’s vitamins, there’s minerals, there’s water, there’s fiber. I do like it paired with some peanut butter, as a good example. Actually one of my favorite snacks is apples with peanut butter, and then I mix cinnamon into my peanut butter and it’s like a delectable, delicious treat.
Chuck Gaidica: And why? Why do you like that? Outside of the obvious, which is, it’s a fave.
Grace Derocha: One. I like cinnamon apples, pair well together, but cinnamon also is actually a natural balancer of blood sugar. So there’s that added benefit. And it adds a little bit of sweetness to my peanut butter because of course I use natural peanut butter, which is only peanuts, without adding extra added sugar.
Chuck Gaidica: And I’ve heard this and you tell me, slap me if I’m wrong because there’s so many studies out there, right? Every day there’s some new study it seems. I’ve read studies that say that we should think about combining a little bit of protein with our carbs when we’re having carbs. So having peanut butter, even though you would tend to think it’s got more fat in it, either the good kind you’re having or the kind that I may have, but is there some science to that, that we really should add a little protein with our carbs or if I just want to eat celery or just have an apple go for it and don’t worry about it.
Grace Derocha: Yes. So this is why, and this is actually very important when it comes to snacking. Protein and fat, ideally heart healthy fat, take longer to digest. So because of that it stays with us longer. An apple that’s all carbohydrate with the natural sugar in it will digest more quickly and can spike your blood sugar and then drop it faster, making you hungrier sooner. So pairing those things together will help keep you sustained and satisfied a bit longer.
Chuck Gaidica: And aren’t those things going to work differently on your body, including, you’re in the middle of your work day or it’s getting to be three o’clock in the afternoon and you’re starting to zone out and like, Oh man, I feel like I’m tired already and I’ve got two, three more hours to go. Does this help give you a boost when you’re snacking the right way?
Grace Derocha: Absolutely. Increasing your blood sugar will actually help give your brain, your heart, your body, all your organs a boost of energy to get through. I’m glad you actually brought this up because I think there’s something important to be said about timing of these things. In our society, we often snack for different reasons. The goal is to snack, to figure out when you’re hungry so that you can be satisfied for whatever duration of time your schedule aligns with. But oftentimes people call it a snack time because they’re eating because they’re bored, because they’re emotional, for other reasons other than satisfying your body and fulfilling that hunger. So I always remind people of that.
Chuck Gaidica: And some of us have been blessed work in places where, and God, love for everybody that does this. Today there’s a birthday cake down in the kitchen, or a lot of businesses that are trying to be hip and cool have installed little areas with bowls of stuff. And now it’s the cool thing to do is to have snacks here and there and you would hope they’re healthy. But you’ve got to manage when you’re, especially at work, and obviously when you’re at home, but at work, even at work, you can find the well meaning people who are bringing cookies, cake, donuts for breakfast. There’s a lot of input and a lot of glossy, bright, shiny objects that can hit your eyes, that could distract you and you wind up eating stuff you didn’t really intend to.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, very great point. We have this at work. There are these tables in the front and there’s always things on them. People brought their extra candy, their extra whatever because they want to get rid of it out of their home. So now they’re bringing it to work. And this is what I tell people, is it okay to have a treat? Absolutely. But I want them to think about, am I actually hungry? Do I actually want that? Do I need that? Thinking about your satisfaction level and your hunger level, and also looking at your day. As a mom, I’m a big planner, but you don’t have to plan perfectly, but have some kind of plan B’s in place so that you don’t go through the drive thru, or you don’t have 10 cookies that were sitting on the table. Maybe you have one with your cup of coffee or whatever it might be, but just being a little bit smarter and a little bit more planned and calculated about some of these things. And it takes time.
Chuck Gaidica: And you’re talking about snacking with a purpose, right? So I’m going to admit to you what I’ve probably said in some previous episodes, admitted to you and everybody else who’s heard it is, I am kind of an emotional eater. And whether it’s in the political climate we’re in, it doesn’t matter which side you pick a team, I can find myself turning on the news of the day. And it doesn’t matter if it’s some kind of flu virus or it’s political news. And I find myself reaching for cookies. I’m watching thinking in my head like, are you people crazy? What’s going on? And I start eating because I’m an emotional eater. Something’s going too right or too wrong. I don’t really have a purpose in that eating. It’s just satisfying. It could be that I was bored. It could be that I’m just skating through an afternoon, but there are reasons to stop and ask yourself, am I snacking because I’m hungry or am I snacking because I’m upset? Or what is it?
Grace Derocha: Yeah. And those things can be, like you said, they could be habitual. They could be so over the years of our lives. We won’t talk about how old we are, but these things are something that we’ve turned to for a long period of time. It’s almost innate for us to go there. So that’s why that breath and that moment, three deep breaths is all you really need to actually ask yourself, am I hungry right now? Why am I grabbing the bag of chips? Why am I? Is there a reason or do I have another plan to allow me to avoid stuffing my face with cookies? And again, you could have one, but just don’t have the whole package of Oreos.
Chuck Gaidica: And what if you’re getting a real hunger cue? Are you big on saying stop and do a three, two, one count, and then maybe get a glass of water? Is that too juvenile to think that it could be that basic and that gets rid of that hunger Pang if it’s real, and it’s not emotional or it’s not boredom?
Grace Derocha: No. So oftentimes when we’re dehydrated, we feel hunger. So that could be one thing for sure. But then also obviously looking at your day, if you haven’t eaten in four to five hours, you might actually be hungry and need a real snack. And then I would tell people to take the time to try to pick a snack that could give them a boost of healthy goodness, as opposed to too much of a treat.
Chuck Gaidica: So are you big on this idea? I guess you could call it snacking, but there are all kinds of times and studies that I hear and read things about that say we should be having five, six smaller meals during the day. So in other words, I guess you could call it a midday snack to get by, but is there some science and logic to this? Or would you suggest that we not graze our way through the day like that?
Grace Derocha: Oh, I knew you were going to ask me this.
Chuck Gaidica: Why, is it a bad question? I mean is it-
Grace Derocha: No, because it’s a good question. I would always say, it depends on the person and what they’re doing that day. So yes, there was some research a while back that said having five to six small meals a day is good for you because it keeps your metabolism going. And I don’t disagree with that. But I also think, oftentimes what has happened and what I’ve seen with my patients, is that they will fall into that five to six “snack or small meals” a day, but then they lose being in tune with when they’re hungry versus full. And then those five to six “snacks” or “mini meals” turn into big meals, and then they’re over consuming.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. So they expand. Yeah.
Grace Derocha: Yeah.
Chuck Gaidica: Very interesting.
Grace Derocha: I would say listen to your body and look at your day. I know I said this, I’m a big planner, but even doing something small the night before, before you go to bed, thinking about what your day looks like so that you could pack some snacks to bring with you, or pack them the night before, so you’re kind of ahead of the game. But then also having things in your tool box, like drinking the glass of water. Or I think about food all day long, literally. So also thinking about, what are other things that I can do to take my mind off of food if I know I’ve eaten in the right timeframe and I’m not hungry, or I’m not about to work out or something like that. So whether that be like a mini walk, I have a list of things if I’m at home, like folding the laundry, putting the laundry away, drinking some water, reading a book, texting or emailing people back that I have to email. So things like that to again, put in your toolbox to think about. Am I hungry? Am I full? Is this the right timing for me to eat? And then, what am I going to put into my body?
Chuck Gaidica: And I know you’re big on balance and you’ve talked about this, but there is a way in one handy dandy little package, whether it’s a Kind Bar or the thing that you find, to have balance where maybe you didn’t have a chance to plan the whole thing and bring six Tupperware containers with you to work. But the Kind Bar does give you the fiber and it gives you some nuts. You know what I mean? You can find ways that give you those things in a small package.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. And it’s a little bit of a sweet treat too, still allowing, often they have dark chocolate in them. I think there’s lots of different convenience things that we can find. I just got a box of Nut-Trition and it’s a bunch of mixed nuts in a little package to make it easier instead of me having to put my own together. So there’s definitely things that are out there that are convenient. Do you have a favorite snack?
Chuck Gaidica: You know what, I do, and I’m a peanut butter and apple guy. But to be honest, I think about peanut butter and apple far more often as being maybe my on the go breakfast before I walk out the door in the morning than I do as a snack. But just the other day I snacked on an apple. I do cut back on the amount of peanut butter I’ll use if it’s a snack, I try to just put a tablespoon on the plate because I know what can happen. And you know this, whether it’s the healthy stuff or it’s the traditional stuff, and in terms of peanut butter, when you’ve got a pretty good size apple, you go through a tablespoon, even when you’re just dabbing, it takes a minute and then all of a sudden it’s gone. So you can start loading up on even the stuff that is “good for you” if you’re not careful. And all of a sudden, you’re dipping into the tub now. Like, Oh my gosh, I can’t do that.
Grace Derocha: Well yeah. And you, Michelle Dunaway, and I talked about that portion control. Tune into that podcast. That’s a good one. But yeah, how often that can escalate really quickly. Sometimes I am guilty of just taking the peanut butter jar with me. I’m like, Oh, pump the brakes.
Chuck Gaidica: Come on, in the car, on the go?
Grace Derocha: Oh yeah. With a spoon.
Chuck Gaidica: Oh wow. Now I don’t feel so bad when I have the expert telling me. My wife Susan has been really good at instructing me. She’s really good at teaching me all kinds of things about life, but she’s been really good. She will grab a Kind Bar, and we’ve looked for protein bars with high fiber and low sugar and all that stuff. So I may grab a half of that, and I’ll tell you what I have found. I have taught myself, and I guess this is part of what you’re saying here, that I don’t need to eat an entire Kind Bar or protein bar to feel like I’m satisfied. So I’ll break off a third, fold that puppy up and keep it in the pantry. When I come back and I think, well, it’s either Valentines Day candy that’s left over or the other third of my protein bar. I had been sort of trained like Pavlov’s dog to go for the healthier choice. It’s just working out.
Grace Derocha: Yes, and it’s funny because kids size bars are smaller, and often that’s what we buy for the kids, but I feel like that smaller bar is the perfect little snack grab and go situation. I love that.
Chuck Gaidica: I also find for me, and this is just my own system, so you asked me, so I’m giving you the long version of the answer. If I’m moving, if I am taking the stairs in a building versus the elevator, if I’m on a cruise ship enjoying it and taking stairs instead of an elevator. If I’m doing something physical, even if I’m returning a cell phone call with my headset plugged in or something, my earbuds, if I am moving, it’s really hard to also walk around and walk up and down stairs and be trying to navigate, holding a phone, holding a snack, holding a coffee. You just can’t do it well.
Grace Derocha: There’s too much going on.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, so it’s my little deal and I know it doesn’t apply to everybody, but when I’m moving, I find that not only am I getting the benefit of extra steps in my day, it’s just hard to juggle all that stuff because I can’t do it.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. That’s a great point. One of my things, I learned this from my mom. She used to always take a walk around the house if she… I think part of it was if she was stressed with dealing with her children, but also to avoid extra eating if she didn’t need to. She would go outside, maybe pull some weeds in the garden, and then she would come back in and she was happy. She got some sunshine and fresh air and it was all great. But I think also talking about being physical might, if you’re not exercising regularly or you’re trying to increase your physical activity, you will see that that will move your metabolism, and then you might notice that you are hungrier sooner. So again, snacking with purpose and making better decisions as you’re trying to attain these health goals become important in that process too.
Chuck Gaidica: So I want to double back to something that you’ve touched on multiple times, and that’s planning. So I know before you set out to be here to record the podcast, you’ve got kids to get off to school, but you’re planning, you are doing some planning. Give us a few, I guess they could even be hacks, but just give us a few ideas. What could we start to implement today, tomorrow, in terms of planning? Not just trying to go to some machine and drop in a bucket and get something out of it. What could we start to do to plan so that our lifestyle can change, that this can become a routine for us?
Grace Derocha: So I gave you one of them. When it’s colder outside, I keep a bag of apples or pears, and it works for the kids and the whole family too, in the car, and some kind of nuts or some kind of bar that everyone will enjoy, that stay in the car so that we avoid making not the best food decisions.
Chuck Gaidica: And you mean that helps you avoid the drive thru?
Grace Derocha: Yes. Helps with the drive thru. Or when we’re on the go, like you talked about, like where we’re going from school to dance, or school to soccer, school to swimming, and they want something. I always have that there, even though I usually try to pack something too. I always have that there if I don’t have time because of my busy work schedule. So that’s one of my easy hacks. Another thing would be always have a water bottle. Like I mentioned, oftentimes when we’re thirsty or dehydrated, we feel hunger. So staying hydrated in that process is part of the key.
Chuck Gaidica: And we’re running out of excuses, aren’t we, for not refilling a bottle? Because so many places have installed the newer drinking fountains that you can refill a bottle. It’s almost impossible to go places now and not see one of those.
Grace Derocha: Exactly. I don’t want to hear it.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. So are you apt to carry your own bottle? Do you have a special bottle that you carry or you just keep getting a bottle of water? Start your day and just keep refilling the plastic one?
Grace Derocha: I try not to use plastic when I can.
Chuck Gaidica: Okay. Yeah.
Grace Derocha: Keep the environment safe.
Chuck Gaidica: I get it.
Grace Derocha: I think knowing what your favorite snacks are and how to transport them. So you and I’ve talked about apple and peanut butter. One of my favorites also is carrots or cucumbers with hummus. That’s actually one of my kids’ favorites too. So all of these things work out nicely. On the way here, I had a hard boiled egg with everything but the bagel seasoning. Finding your favorite bars, and I think we’ve talked about this a little bit, but trying to find one that has whole foods, maybe is higher in protein and fiber, and not as much added sugars, so that it’s really giving you that boost of good nutrition. Snacking with purpose. Trail mixes, actually I love to make my own. So when I’m at the bottom of different cereals or different snacks in the house, we put it all into a bowl and then make our own trail mix, which is super fun.
Chuck Gaidica: Interesting. And then do you add anything to it? Like little carob pieces? Do you add stuff to it? Or you literally just mix up the leftovers.
Grace Derocha: So leftover cereal, leftover snacks or Goldfish or crackers, dried fruit, chocolate pieces, leftover pretzel, like basically whatever is… You know when it gets to the bottom of the box, like the pretzel bag, I feel like this happens often. No one wants to eat it for some reason. So we make our own, and I usually try to think of a fun name. Like the last one, I had some extra marshmallows that were colored, so we called it the unicorn trail mix, whatever. Whatever’s going to make the kids eat the rest of it so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Chuck Gaidica: I wonder if the people that invented those bags, that have a little pretzel and carob, I wonder if that’s how it started. They were just going through the bottom of the granola box and said, Hey, we can sell this again if we just scraped the stuff out.
Grace Derocha: And look. You can do that at home too, so you don’t waste. I do love yogurt with fruit. I love fruit. My roasted chickpeas, that actually is in our trail mix right now, so delicious. Have you ever had those?
Chuck Gaidica: I’ve had like wasabi, I guess they would be roasted, right? Chickpeas, the dry ones. You’re eating like a nut, is that what you mean? Yeah. Yeah.
Grace Derocha: I love those because that’s a great mix of healthy carbs, fiber, there’s some protein, a little bit of heart healthy fat. And it’s nice because it gives you that crunch that can satisfy like a chick. I love that. My matcha energy bites, I think I’ve talked about those with you before. It’s basically my own bar that I roll into balls that have matcha, which is green tea leaves polarized. So it gives you a kick of natural caffeine. But then the sweetener is dates. So I don’t have any added sugar in there. And it’s cashews and pistachios and it’s delicious.
Chuck Gaidica: Mmm. So this is matcha. It’s actually mixed in with that whole thing. It’s not just a powder around the outside of a ball or something, like powdered sugar.
Grace Derocha: It’s actually mixed into, and then just food process. No baking or cooking.
Chuck Gaidica: Very interesting.
Grace Derocha: Delicious.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, that’s a good one. So you’ve mentioned a couple of things though, and I’m encouraged now to try something new. I really am. But whether it’s the matcha fig ball thing, or it’s a hard boiled egg, that does take a little bit of thought first thing in the morning. So if you have to be out the door at 7:00 AM, you can’t really wake up and get this V8 like 10 minutes to seven. You got to have a little planning in your day to put some of these ideas together.
Grace Derocha: So I cheat. I hard-boil probably usually around a dozen eggs every week. So we have them, I can add them to salads, me and the kids and Tom can have them as snacks as we’re running out the door. Literally what happened today. And when I’m really good at planning, I will peel all of them so that they’re peeled and ready to go.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. Well see, but here’s what you’re doing, which is so encouraging. You are not making, it seems like for some of us peeking in the window at the Derocha household, that you would be doing things that are making your life harder. You’re actually coming up with the systems and the hacks that work for you, the food you like, but it’s making your life easier because you’re planning. Go figure.
Grace Derocha: Absolutely. People always, when I tell them things like that, they roll their eyes at me. But you know what…
Chuck Gaidica: I’m not rolling my eyes. Don’t look at my eyes. They’re not rolling.
Grace Derocha: I make my kids, so the hard boiled egg thing. They’re all into it because they know that they’re a part of the process. So they help me peel all of them. They don’t do the best job ever. However, it gets done and we have that, and we’re good to go. So for me today, I was able to then grab one of those and I had it, and it was ready, peeled, and it was perfect.
Chuck Gaidica: And when you’re doing your snacking through the day, when you talk about a hard boiled egg, you would eat a whole, an entire hard boiled egg? At one time?
Grace Derocha: Yes.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. And so the filling you up part of this idea, obviously you’re going to get more of that from a hard boiled egg than you will from a little handful of trail mix. Right? Am I right or wrong?
Grace Derocha: It depends. I feel like my hard boiled egg and the banana were more like breakfast, so…
Chuck Gaidica: They’re more substantial.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. And to go back to fulfilling those macro nutrients, I know what my day looks like today. So I wanted to make sure that I had protein in the morning to get me through the day. And then a banana because I wanted some carbs that were healthy, and I worked out last night. So I know there’s potassium there. And then of course I have coffee.
Chuck Gaidica: So how much protein would you say are you looking to accomplish in a snack, or even in your meals? Is the average 1520 grams of protein per meal is what you’re shooting for every day, or is that too high?
Grace Derocha: What I like people to look at is knowing what, when you’re looking at your macro nutrients, your main nutrients, protein, fat, and carbs, doing what you can to mix those at one time, and also mix food groups. So when you do that, it allows you to have a bigger breadth of different foods. So that, I think, is one of the keys. I tap into a lot of intuitive eating. I don’t actually always log or calculate. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But thinking about that, mixing up your food groups, having a lot of variety. Variety is key. Thinking of lots of colors. If you know you haven’t had a lot of green today, maybe later have a salad, or I have kale chips right now because I made them on Sunday so I’ll probably have some of those. Thinking of things to add variety with flavors and textures and nutrients and colors will allow you to make a better choice to have more well rounded nutrition.
Chuck Gaidica: I love the idea of thinking about the color and, what was it you referred to, the unicorn snack? What was that? Just because it had the marshmallows.
Grace Derocha: Unicorn trail mix.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah, because it had the marshmallows. But every day I try to think of, and my go to is blueberry, so whether the two for five or the buy three get one free kind of container, I bring them home, I wash them and I freeze them because I know I can always grab a handful, which is probably what, two tablespoons, maybe three tablespoons. So what, thaw them out add it to my yogurt for the morning, or just eat them. Just eat them as a snack.
Grace Derocha: Add it to oatmeal, add it to yogurt.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah.
Grace Derocha: Throw them in your smoothie. So many options.
Chuck Gaidica: So as we start to wrap it up, give us some takeaway tips here. Again, you’ve been giving us so much great stuff today but give us a few of these planning tips that we can look at and maybe start to make a few healthy changes even today as we get going.
Grace Derocha: So if you’re just starting out, be patient and kind with yourself and look at your week. Some people in the beginning tell me, I’ve had patients tell me, I like to take it day by day in the beginning because looking at the week is too overwhelming. So do that. Look at the day, and then if you can just do anything the night before so the morning doesn’t feel so crazy or so rushed, try to do that and prep that. And maybe you start out with buying pre-packaged things like that Nut-Trition pack that I just bought at Costco. There’s a bunch of them in there and we’ve been grabbing them and taking them with us. So maybe you start there, and then as you evolve and start to learn more about what the family likes, what you enjoy, what time of day you’re enjoying it, then you can start to make your own. Maybe it’s a unicorn trail mix, maybe it’s a springtime trail mix. Maybe it’s making sure that you purchase a few purple-y blue things that you have in the fridge that are ready to go.
Chuck Gaidica: And are you big on a cutoff at night? Not everybody has a typical schedule, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Southeast Michigan or any part of the state, but if you’re in a factory or you’re doing something, you may be working a night shift so it’s a little off. But if you have a “traditional” schedule, do you tend to think there’s a cutoff for snacking at night, especially if you’re going to sit down and stream your favorite show or binge, and you didn’t even start till eight o’clock at night?
Grace Derocha: This is what I always say to people, tune in to if you’re hungry or if you’re full. Or if it’s habitual that you’re going to snack on something, like some chips while you’re watching Netflix. But if you’re actually hungry, it’s okay to have something.
Chuck Gaidica: So if you need to satisfy that hunger, just do it in a well rounded way and find the balance that Grace talks about all the time.
Grace Derocha: Yeah, don’t bring the bag or the box with you to the couch. Put it in a bowl. That’s a really good tip.
Chuck Gaidica: Oh, that is such a big deal in my house. Oh my gosh. Susan will say all the time, she’ll say, put it in a bowl. I’m like, put it in a bowl? I don’t get enough lime flavored chips if I put them in a bowl. Put the ice cream in a bowl? So we have this back and forth. But to be honest, I’ve learned, because I’m trained, it’s only been 40 years as a husband, but I’m trained now that it should be something I have to listen to. So that’s really a good one.
Grace Derocha: I guarantee you, if you put your one serving or one and a half servings in the bowl, after you eat that you’ll be full. But if you bring the bag of potato chips to the couch, it’s like Mary Poppins never ending bag of chips.
Chuck Gaidica: I know. I know. And you know what can happen. You know this because we, you get past the Super Bowl or whatever. You get, especially if you’re drinking a soda, something that’s going with those chips. When you run out of soda, the first thing you may be thinking is, well I need to get more of that so I can eat more chips. And that’s way the wrong way to think about this.
Grace Derocha: Oh yeah, like building that ratio. Like, Oh, I still have a little bit of pop left. I need to go get more chips. Don’t build the ratio. Stop that.
Chuck Gaidica: Well listen, you’ve encouraged me as always, and I’m encouraged to do a little better planning in my life, although I think I’m doing pretty well. I think I’m-
Grace Derocha: You do great. You’re awesome.
Chuck Gaidica: Thank you. But I rarely put stuff in bags and put it in my car. That would be one place that I could really improve my life. And I don’t go through drive thrus that often, but it’s hard to eat a healthy salad while you’re driving.
Grace Derocha: Yeah. Well, and also you don’t want to be hangry while you’re driving. That’s when road rage starts. You don’t want that.
Chuck Gaidica: Yeah. Well, Grace, thank you.
Grace Derocha: Thank you.
Chuck Gaidica: Thanks for encouraging all of us today. Grace Derocha, who has been with us today from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Just a wonderful podcast episode to encourage all of us to think about this idea of satisfying hunger, portion control. Everything can benefit our bodies, and it makes so much sense when you think about it intellectually. And then I know every once in a while we’d come off the rails, but that’s okay. You can get back on.
Chuck Gaidica: If you like our show, you want to hear more from A Healthier Michigan Podcast, brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, go online, jump on right now. Check us out at You can even leave us a review or rating on Apple Podcast or Stitcher. You can get new episodes, old episodes on your smartphone or tablet. Be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. Grace, take good care.
Grace Derocha: Thanks, Chuck. Have a good one.

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