Thursday, February 23, 2012

Health Tips: Smart Snacking

Today I want to talk about something that can make or break any diet plan: snacks.  I am an avid snacker.  You don't want to be near me if I haven't eaten in more than 3 hours!  Snacking has become a normal part of our culture, and it can be helpful in trying to lose weight.  Eating small meals with a snack between keeps blood sugar from dropping, and appetites from soaring.  Unfortunately, it is often times a diet buster.  We are constantly bombarded by junk food that is marketed as snacks.  Chips, cookies, candy bars, crackers, pop, etc.  In my nutrition counseling, I have seen first hand how these poor snack choices can add up to a lot of calories and pounds.  

Fortunately, snacking can be a part of a healthy diet.  But instead of using snacks to derail your diet, think of snacks as an opportunity to fit in foods you currently don’t get enough of.  Think about your typical diet and how much you eat from the different food groups.  Are there foods you eat too much of?  Are there foods you don’t eat enough of?  The typical American diet is heavy on carbs and meat and low in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy.  If you’re not sure how you are doing, the website is a great place to find out!
Now that you have an idea of which foods you need to increase or decrease in your diet, here are some healthy snack ideas from the different food groups:
·         Fruits:  Almost all fruits are easy, portable snacks.  Fruits such as oranges and bananas come with their own packaging.  Other fruits can be bagged for easy transportation.  Consider having fruit for an afternoon snack instead of other sweet snacks such as candy or cookies.
·         Vegetables: If crunch is what you are looking for at snack time, veggies are just what you need!  Baby carrots or celery sticks are great snacks.  Try using baby carrots for dipping instead of chips.  They are great with salsa or guacamole!  Containers of grape tomatoes are convenient, tasty snacks as well.
·         Dairy: If you are not a milk drinker, some good snack ideas are non-fat yogurt (be careful for sweetened yogurts, which can have a lot of calories!), low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese or string cheese.  Dairy is known as a good source of calcium, but it also makes a good snack because it has protein (more on that later!).
·         Grains: Think whole grains!  Good choices include light popcorn, whole wheat toast, low sugar granola, cereal, or fiber bars, a small whole wheat or corn tortilla, or whole grain crackers such as Wheat Thins or Triscuits. 
·         Protein: Having protein between meals can help keep you satisfied until your next meal.  A handful of nuts (any kind!) or a spoonful of peanut butter are good sources of protein and heart-healthy fat.  Just don’t go overboard on the portion sizes!  Nuts in 100 calorie packs make snacking easy.  Other good options include a hard boiled egg, lean beef jerkey, hummus, low sodium deli meat, or a can of tuna. 
Because of protein's ability to stave off hunger, it is generally a good idea to include some protein with snacks.  This could be any of the items from the protein group, or the dairy group.  If you are snacking on foods from the other group, think of protein combos like apple slices or whole wheat toast with a bit of peanut butter,  carrots dipped in hummus, mandarin oranges or tomato slices with cottage cheese, whole wheat crackers with cheese, etc.

Bottom line:  If you tummy is rumbling at 3:00 in the afternoon, eating a reasonable snack can prevent you from pigging out later!  Planning ahead is important when it comes to snacking!  If you take a healthy snack with you each morning, you are way less likely to end up at the vending machine scarfing down a candy bar.  You'll thank yourself later!

Happy snacking!


  1. Awesome tips.Healthy snacks are good for controlling blood sugar levels.These snacks provide a lot of nutrients and vitamins and also they are good sources of energy.

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  2. Great tips-I definitely swear by the grains! Also, my mom eats 6 times a day but they are light meals and she is very tiny. Enjoy the weekend!