Snack Smartly: Be Hale and Hearty
Have you ever pondered about choosing the right snacks in your diet plan? When it comes to snacking, people often think of foods that are high in sugar or added fats. But munching wrong foods can add unwanted calories and make you even hungrier when mealtime rolls around. Planning snacks is as essential as planning meals for a healthy living.
Every coin has two sides. Similarly, snacking also has two aspects – the good and the bad. Eating a healthy snack between meals is the positive aspect of snacking. This ensures that your body will not run out of fuel and you’ll consume only the desirable portion of food during your next meal. Healthy snacks serve a dual purpose of curbing hunger and providing the nutrients to complement the meals that are consumed throughout the day.
The bad aspect is that if you make poor snacking choices or eat too many calories at snack time, you’ll probably gain weight. If your snack choices are determined by how you feel at the moment or by the not-so-nutritious options available, you’re likely to overeat and miss out on important nutrients.
Dieticians and nutritionists recommend healthy snacks in between the meals. To reap the benefits of snacking, it’s important to keep in mind the foods you choose, the amount you eat, and the frequency at which you snack.
The key is to choose healthy snacks that will fill you up without adding too many calories.
Healthy Snack Guidelines
Plan healthy snacks: It’s a great opportunity to fit in another serving of whole grains, fruits, or vegetables. These foods are lower in fat and calories compared to most salty snacks and sweets. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will fill you up quickly and also give you the energy you need.
- Watch your portion size: Regardless of how many snacks your meal plan includes, portion sizes are the key to control your blood glucose and avoiding weight gain. Try limiting your snacks to no more than three a day. Aim for snacks with less than 200 calories.
- Keep healthy ready-to-eat snacks on hand: Examples of healthy ready-to-eat snacks are fruit with low fat yogurt, vegetables with light dip or low fat cottage cheese, whole grain crackers with hummus, peanut butter, or low fat cheese.
- Drink water often: Water has no calories. Water quenches your thirst and helps you feel full.
- Buy small packages of food or take small portions from larger packages. Eat slowly. Don’t snack directly from a large container, bag or box.
- Learn to recognize true hunger and fullness: Skip the urge to nibble when you are bored, tired, upset or stressed. Try something else like walking the dog, going for a jog, reading a book, writing in a journal, or listening to your favorite music.
- Avoid snacking: While watching TV, working or playing on the computer, reading, or driving.
- Don’t choose foods that are higher in calories, fat, sugar, or salt (sodium): These foods include cookies, cakes, chocolates, ice cream, chips, and deep-fried foods. If you can’t resist eating these foods, try to eat only a small amount. For example, instead of eating two cookies, eat one cookie and some fresh fruit. Or put a small scoop (golf ball size) of ice cream in a small bowl and top it with fresh or frozen fruits.