Snacking can be a very healthy habit, promoting desirable changes to your weight. Healthy snacking improves energy levels, maintains stable blood sugar levels, and improves your metabolism. However, mindless snacking can lead to unwanted weight gain if snacks are too large or unhealthy choices. I’ve created this guide to provide you with the information you need to make healthy choices, along with a lengthy list of my top recommended snacks.
- Avoid grazing; be aware of what/how much you are eating. Measure out your servings rather than eating directly out of a bag or box. For example, if you are snacking on whole wheat crackers, measure out one portion from the box and put the rest away-rather than sitting with the entire box unaware of how many you’re grabbing.
- Try to include a fruit or vegetable into each snack. The fiber helps keep you full, and they contain essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
- Include either a source of healthy fats or protein with each snack to help keep you full longer. For example, rather than having just a piece of fruit, add some nuts or nut butter to it.
- A very basic guideline for what your snacks should contain is 200-250 calories, 3g fiber or more, and 5g protein or more (note: everyone has very different needs, meet with me for your specific recommendations. For those of you looking to gain weight, read my blog here.)
- Aim to eat about every 3-4 hours.
- “Snack foods” that you often find in the middle aisles of grocery stores (i.e. chips, cookies, crackers, 100-calorie packs, etc.) tend to be very high in refined carbohydrates and low in actual nutritional value. Check out my list below for better snack options…and remember, low-calorie does not always mean it’s a healthy choice!
- Monitor calories coming from drinks (i.e. juice, soda, sports drinks) at snack times. Check out my blog here on rethinking your drinks...these calories can pile on! Try to stick to mostly water and unsweetened teas.
- Put a basket in your pantry for pre-portioned, ready-to-grab snacks. Use your measuring cups and Ziploc bags to separate your own portions of nuts, seeds, air-popped popcorn, cereal, granola, etc. This way you won’t be as likely to overeat straight from the containers, and you’ll always have the right portion ready to grab on your way out the door.
Healthy Snack Options:
- Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews (unsalted preferably)
- Fresh (or dried) fruit and a hard-boiled egg
- Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Granola
- String Cheese and a piece of fruit
- Individual packet of Hummus with sliced, raw, veggies
- A slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter and ½ banana sliced on top (Recipe)
- Whole grain crackers and 1 oz. cheese
- Whole grain crackers with tuna
- Meat & Cheese roll-ups (3 slices fresh deli meat/2 thinly sliced pieces of low-fat white cheese)
- Apple slices with 2-3 Tbsp honey yogurt dip
- A slice of whole wheat bread with ¼ an avocado and 1 egg (Recipe)
- Homemade sweet trail mix (2 Tbsp of each: dark chocolate chips, almonds, dried cranberries)
- A slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter & jelly
- Air-popped popcorn
- Low-fat cottage cheese with diced tomatoes, onions, and green peppers
- Fruit & Veggie Smoothie (Recipes)
- Unsweetened dried mango or apple slices
- Peach Salsa and baked tortilla chips
For healthy snack ideas while traveling, check out my blog on travel nutrition here.