“Snacking is bad! I avoid snacks whenever I can.”
“Snacks = cookies and crackers.”
“It’s 3pm, I need a snack, and the nearest option is the vending machine.”
Do these phrases sound familiar to you? Most people need to snack one or two times per day as part of a healthful diet. In a world where we are bombarded by advertisements for snacks in the form of cookies, crackers, and granola bars, it is hard to consistently choose smart snacks. Check out these simple rules and snack ideas to get you started on the path to smart snacking!
- Treat your snack like a mini-meal. Snacks need to contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats –these are the nutrients that help us feel full. Ditch the 100 calorie packs in favor of a fruit or veggie paired with 1-2 tbsp nut butter, ¼ avocado, ¼ cup hummus or 1 oz low-sodium beef or turkey jerky.
- Bring your snacks with you. Most of us are on the go, and it is incredibly difficult to get healthful snacks on the fly that are cost-effective. Plan ahead and bust out some baggies – the following snacks will stay tasty and safe in any briefcase, purse, or pocket!
- ¼ cup nuts (best nuts for heart health are walnuts, almonds, and pistachios)
- ¼ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (yes, salted is ok! There is about 150 mg of sodium in pumpkin seeds versus 400 mg sodium in your average bagel or scone)
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn with olive oil spray and 1-2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 8-12 peanut butter pretzel nuggets
- Eat a snack before you get too hungry. Do you find yourself having seconds or thirds at dinner, or eating an appetizer and dinner at a restaurant? Chances are high that you let yourself get too hungry. Make a point to have a snack 2-3 hours after lunch – you won’t feel like a bottomless pit come dinner time!
- Take your time when you snack. Try to take 5-10 minutes to eat your snack. If possible, make it an “event” by putting your snack on a napkin or plate and sit instead of eating out of a box, bag, or can and sit at the table. The act of sitting down and making time for your snack will help you feel more satisfied.
More Smart Snack Ideas:
- 1 small apple or 3 stalks celery with 1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter
- 1 oz low sodium turkey or beef jerky with ½ cup fruit canned in 100% juice
- ¼ cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup dried, unsweetened fruit
- 3 small piece dark chocolate (72% or higher) and 3 apricot halves
- 1 string cheese with 2 clementines
- 6 oz plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup fruit canned in 100% fruit juice
- Two turkey roll ups – 1 slice low sodium turkey meat with ½ slice swiss or cheddar cheese or 1-2 avocado slices per roll up
- ½ cup 2% or 4% cottage cheese with ½ cup fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or ½ cup berries
- 1 hardboiled egg with non-starchy vegetables
- 2 oz tuna with 1 tsp low fat mayo with celery and carrots
- ½ cup low fat ricotta cheese with ¼ cup marinara sauce