Steps for Smarter Snacking
It's a double-edged sword: While snacking can be a great way to keep energy levels consistent, prevent overeating, help with weight loss and long term weight management, typical snack foods don't always fit smart snacking criteria. Everyone is different, and so too are our metabolisms and preferred eating patterns. Some people find that eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day and eating every 3-4 hours is optimal for their body type. This eating schedule, especially for people with Diabetes or hypoglycemia, is essential for blood-sugar control. You don't have to snack or eat more than three times per day to lose weight. Snacking can greatly help or hurt attempts to maintain a healthy diet depending on the size and quality of your snack.
Don't fall into the snacking trap of replacing nutritious foods at mealtimes with unhealthy snack foods later on. Even so-called "healthy" snack foods are often packed with added sugar, fat, sodium, and offer little nutritional value. Additionally, watch out for marketing ploys such as "snack-size" options; these usually have fewer calories, but don't be fooled into thinking you can have extra servings. If you do need or prefer having snacks, make sure to incorporate whole foods and nutrient-packed foods, including fruit, vegetables, yogurt, and nuts. Avoid snacks such as crackers, pretzels, and veggie chips. Here are a few tips:
- Think of snacks as mini-meals and include vegetables in at least one snack per day.
- Keep snacks less than 200 calories.
- Make sure each snack contains some fiber and protein.
- If you work in an office and snacks are a temptation for you, keep them in a break room or kitchen and not in your desk.
- Bring a week's worth of snacks in single portions at the beginning of the week to work.
- Check-in with yourself: Are you physically hungry or reaching for a snack out of stress, boredom, or habit?
10 Super Snacks
- String Cheese or Carrot Sticks
- Soup Cup: Any organic, low-sodium brand.
- Low-fat or non-fat Greek Yogurt
- Higher Fiber Fruit: Oranges, Apples, Pears, and Berries
- Granola Bars: The less ingredients the better. Avoid excess sodium and excessive sweeteners.
- Half a sandwich thin with 1 tablespoon peanut butter or low-sodium lunch meat
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn or light popcorn
- 20 Almonds
- ½ cup cottage cheese + ½ cup fruit
- Raw veggies and humus