The Art of Healthy Snacking

Snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet. Including healthy snacks in your day can be a great way to help you get in all of the nutrients you need for good health and to keep you feeling energized throughout the day. Snacks can also help to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and prevent drops in energy and feelings of hunger between meals which can prevent over eating at meal times. It is important though to choose the right types of snack and to remember that mindless snacking on large portions of food can lead to unwanted weight gain. Here are some helpful tips to remember when it comes to healthy snacking:

Plan your snacks around whole foods from Canada’s Food Guide

  • Limit snacking on processed foods (such as chips, processed meats, pastries, donuts etc.) and try to choose real, whole foods (like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, nuts etc.) when choosing a snack
  • For a satisfying snack, choose 2 out of the 4 food groups for your snack (ie. an apple with almonds or fruit and cottage cheese)

Try to include some sort of protein and healthy fats in your snack to make your snack even more satisfying

  • Try cottage cheese, greek yogurt, almonds, roasted chickpeas, hard boiled egg, peanut butter, almond butter, hummus etc.

Keep convenient, healthy snacks on hand at work and when you are on the go in order to avoid needing to raid the vending machine while at work or stop at a fast food restaurant.

  • Keep things like nuts, whole grain granola bars, apples, oranges, roasted chickpeas, or trail mix on hand in your desk or car.

Listen to your body

  • If you are typically hungry around 4pm, plan to have a snack around this time to avoid waiting until you are starving and spoiling your dinner by having too large of a snack.

Portion out your snacks and avoid eating right out of the bag or box to help keep your portion sizes in check and avoid mindlessly overeating.

Use snacks as a way to get in important nutrients that you may have missed at meal time.

  • If you had yogurt at breakfast maybe try to find a different snack like fruit and nuts, if you haven’t had any veggies yet maybe try to have raw veggies and hummus or a smoothie with some spinach added.

Drink water throughout the day.

  • It can be easy to mistake thirst for hunger so be sure you stay well hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and make a goal of drinking at least 8-12 cups of water a day.
  • Avoid drinking high-sugar pop and juice, they are very high in sugar and empty calories and extra calories from these types of beverages can add up very quickly.

Although snacks can be an important part of a healthy diet, try to avoid nibbling or snacking mindlessly because you are bored, tired, angry or sad.

  • Check yourself to decide if you really are hungry or if you are eating for other reasons. If you are try going for a walk, talking with a friend, reading a book or listening to your favorite music instead.

Avoid snacking while distracted such as watching TV, working, reading, playing on the computer or driving.

  • Again, this is called “mindless eating” and research has shown people consume significantly more calories when they are distracted versus when they are eating mindfully and paying attention to their body cues.

Limit your snacks to no more than 3 per day.

  • Having a snack between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner , and before bed is perfectly fine but try not to include any more than this, it can be easy to overeat if you are eating more than 3 snacks per day.
  • If you only want to have 1 or 2 snacks per day that is great too, listen to your body and your fullness/hunger cues.

Here are some healthy snack ideas for you!

  • 1 small whole grain pita with 1 tbsp of hummus
  • 1 rice cake with 1 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter) and ½ sliced banana on top with a sprinkle of coconut
  • Three whole grain rye crackers with ¼ sliced avocado and 2 tbsp salsa.
  • Small yogurt parfait made with ½ cup greek yogurt, ½ cup mixed berries and 2 tbsp low-sugar granola
  • Make your own trail mix using a mixture of unsalted nuts, dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, apples) and dark chocolate chips
  • Apple slices dipped in almond butter
  • 1 portion of whole grain crackers with a cheese string (made with real cheese)
  • ½ cup diced pineapple and ½ cup cottage cheese
  • Small low-fat bran muffin with small skim milk latte
  • ½ cup fruit with ½ cup greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup roasted chickpeas and chopped veggies
  • Air popped popcorn drizzled with 1 tsp melted margarine or butter (or peanut butter for a treat!)
  • Hard boiled egg sprinkled with ground pepper and paprika served with chopped raw veggies
  • Whole grain tortilla chips with salsa/guacamole
  • Celery sticks and 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ cup hummus and chopped raw vegetables
  • Smoothie made with 1/3 cup yogurt, frozen fruit, ½ cup soy milk or low fat milk and a handful of spinach (see my smoothie post for lots of other smoothie ideas!)
  • ½ whole grain English muffin topped with 1oz melted low fat cheese and apple slices
  • Whole grain cereal with milk
  • These Baked Oatmeal Snack Bars by Kath Eats Real Food
  • These Coconut Energy Date Bites by Daily Garnish
  • These 5 minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Fannetastic Food
Read more about Nutrition.

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