Choosing Healthy Snacks

Choosing Healthy Snacks

Is snacking bad for me?

No! Snacking is great to help you feel more energetic. The trick is to only snack when you are truly hungry and to choose your snacks wisely. Most individuals need to eat something every 4 hours to keep their blood sugar levels steady. 

Will snacking help me to eat less at mealtimes?

It might. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full after eating. This is why a small snack about 20 minutes before mealtimes could lead to your eating less during the meals.

How many calories should a snack contain?

If your next meal is going to be within 1 or 2 hours, you should choose a snack with
50-100 calories.  If your next meal won’t be for more than 2 hours, 150-200 calories would be appropriate. 

What foods are best for snacks?

Think of snacks as extra nutritional insurance. Very few people get all of the whole-grain, vegetable, fruit, and dairy products that they should from their meals. Snacks are a way to make up for these deficits. Snacks that contain protein and/or fiber will keep you full for a longer period of time. No one should say, “My diet is really lacking in cookies; so, I better eat a few.” 

So, should I never eat a cookie again?

Cookies are great. If you tell yourself that you’ll never eat a cookie again for as long as you may live, you’ll eat an entire bag when you’re having a bad day, and then beat yourself up emotionally for it. Try to eat your cookie at the same time that you’re eating something more healthful, like a piece of fruit, and don’t make it an everyday occurrence. It’s also important to plan your snacks whenever possible. Most of us have eaten things that we otherwise wouldn’t have, had we not been so hungry. Make sure to pack some healthy snacks when you know that you have a busy day ahead of you. 

Will I still be satisfied if I start to choose healthy snacks?

Hopefully you will. The key to staying satisfied is finding snacks with similar characteristics of your favorite foods.  For instance, if you usually reach for potato chips, it might be the crunchiness or the salt that you enjoy. Whole-grain crackers with cheese might be a suitable replacement. If you replace a cookie with an energy bar, you could save yourself 4 grams of fat, while adding 8 grams of protein. 

What are some healthy snacks that I could try?

  • String cheese and whole-grain crackers
  • Nonfat yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and granola
  • Cereal and milk
  • Cut-up fruit or vegetables with yogurt dip
  • Whole-wheat pita filled with hummus
  • Low-fat corn chips with salsa
  • Fat-free tortilla filled with turkey, cheese, and vegetables
  • Half of a bagel topped with peanut butter and banana slices
  • Low-fat popcorn with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
  • Fat-free pudding cup
  • Handful of nuts mixed with a few chocolate chips
  • Low-fat milk and 2-3 gingersnap cookies
  • Pretzels dipped in low-fat ranch dressing
  • Low-fat cottage cheese topped with diced pepper and tomato
  • Frozen waffle topped with unsweetened applesauce
  • Low-sodium tomato soup made with low-fat milk and a handful of oyster crackers
  • Low-sodium tuna salad on whole-wheat toast
  • Small salad topped with grilled chicken
  • One slice of thin-crust pizza topped with plenty of vegetables

References

Jaret P. Snacks we love. Health Magazine. 1999;13:74-78.  
Kuzemchak S. Snack attack! Self. February 2002;127-129. 
RD411.com

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