In this World, the key to snacking is more about what we snack on and not so much about how much we eat. You need at least 2 healthy snacks per day to keep you going throughout the day. Many of us tend to choose an unhealthy snack over a healthy one. If you get too hungry between meals, it can deplete your willpower to choose a healthy snack and make you consume more calories overall. So many of us that go for the quick and easy snack run will get candy, chips or fast food choices. This may do the trick temporarily, but the high calorie, sugar and fat content will end up slowing you down. With a few small changes, we can all make healthier snack choices.
When you get to that point in the day where you need a snack, there are ways to make a healthy decision. Here are some ways to insure you will pick the healthy snack:
- You can pack healthy alternatives like nuts, fruits, vegetables or healthy bars in your backpack or briefcase before heading off to school or work.
- Keep only healthy snack options around. Stock your snack drawer at work with fruit, pumpkin seeds, dry roasted edamame, low calorie popcorn, and healthy chips such as kale or vegetable chips to keep you away from those extra calories. If you have a refrigerator close by then you can add some hummus, yogurt or hard boiled eggs to your snack stash.
- Keep your snacks interesting. Add some fruit or granola to your yogurt. If you like pretzels then have some peanut butter or mustard available for dipping. Peanut butter is also good with apples or rice cakes, and some like it with just a spoon. Just because it may be a healthy choice, consuming too much can still pack on the calories and lead to weight gain.
- Most fruits and vegetables that make up a fruit plate or raw veggie plate are good items to pick up with our hands and to take the edge off of hunger while providing valuable vitamins and nutrients.
- Have a variety of salty, sweet, gooey and crunchy. If all that is around are celery and carrot sticks, then when the desire for sweet arises, you may be tempted to head to the store for a dessert. By always having fruit or homemade healthy cookies, the sweet craving can be met at home in a good way. For gooey, I like having maple syrup and honey around. Nuts or raw celery and carrots are good for salty and crunchy cravings. Learn what both nourishes and satisfies you and your family and keep it around the house. Running out of snacks almost guarantees snacking on less healthful things.
- Make the snacks visible in the fridge as well do not use the crisper drawers because we “forget” that the good snacks are there. I have a snack shelf so everyone knows where to look. Or do a protein, vegetable and then fruit shelf. If you don’t see it right when opening the fridge, it is harder to snack wisely.
As with any advice, it is important to highlight what not to do. Here are a few tips to help:
- Don’t rely on labels that say “healthy,” “natural,” or “pure” on the packaging. This may not be the whole truth of how healthy a product may be for you. Some health bars add vitamins, but may also come with high fat and calories.
- Be cautious of “low fat” claims because the product may contain added sugar to make it taste good.
- Don’t fill the snack drawer in your desk with cookies, candy, and chips.
- Stay away from the vending machines full of unhealthy snacks. It will save you time, money, and those extra calories.
- Buy anything that you might “over” snack on that is bad.
- But Don’t worry about snacking. As long as you are getting out for walks, staying active and snacking on good items, relax and enjoy.