Have you upgraded your snacks in the interest of more healthful eating? Perhaps you’ve traded in your afternoon candy bar for an energy bar or have become a fan of baked potato chips or fat-free ice cream. Maybe you’re willing to pay a little extra when the label says “organic” or “natural.”
It’s a great idea to choose snacks wisely. But many foods that seem to be a great nutrition value aren’t. Bran muffins and cereal bars can be packed with unhealthy fats and added sugar. Fat-free foods often contain lots of added salt and sugar.
Here are 7 tips for smarter snacking.
Go for the grain.
Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.
Bring back breakfast.
Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack.
Try a “hi-low” combination.
Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.
The combo snack.
Try to eat more than one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
You can take it with you.
Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.