No matter how healthy or unhealthy your overall diet, snacking is probably a part of it. Yes, some of us eat three meals a day, but I’ve found that eating this way makes me ravenous before the next meal comes. And being super hungry at mealtime makes me eat more.
I’ve found a better way to eat is smaller meals with a small snack in between. I’m not talking about potato chips, cookies and other junk food; these won’t fill you up and are generally unhealthy. But what to eat instead? Try these suggestions (as well as some tips!):
Fruits and vegetables are great snacks, but sometimes you want something else. One of my favorite snacks is whole-wheat crackers (such as Triscuits) with some sharp cheddar cheese and a sliced apple. I count out about 6 crackers and an ounce of cheese (yes, I measure), and slice up a whole apple. The apple goes great with the sharp cheese and I still get that salty crunch I love.
One of my absolute favorite snacks is raw almonds and dark chocolate chips. I keep both in the freezer and just count out 10 of each, and then eat them together, for a sweet crunchy snack that’s high in antioxidants. Serve with some fresh raspberries for a balanced snack.
Smoothies are easy to make and you can change ’em up depending on what you have. One of my favorites is strawberry almond butter. Add some milk of your choice (I like coconut or almond), a banana, some frozen strawberries and a dollop of natural almond butter. Sweet, cold and easy to make. When making smoothies, stay away from things like ice cream and frozen yogurt and for sweetness, use dates or a little bit of honey.
Peel an orange and dip the slices in vanilla yogurt for a creamsicle like treat.
Sliced veggies and hummus or salsa are great for crunch. Eat some tortilla or pita chips with this, but try to keep your main focus on the veggies.
Unless you’re snacking on fruits and vegetables, don’t snack directly from a box or package. Dried fruits fall into this category as well. Count or weigh things like cheese, nuts or crackers.
If you’re out and about all the time, choose snacks that travel well: Nuts, whole fruit such as an apple or banana, some high fiber, low sugar cereal. Being out without another option means a surefire trip to a fast food joint.
Choose things that are naturally high in protein and fiber as opposed to low calorie fare such as rice cakes and pretzels. The point of a snack is to fill you up between meals, if it doesn’t do that, it’s pointless. Also, some things, such as granola bars are just junk food in disguise, so if you’re eating them in place of an unhealthy treat you’d rather be eating, you’re just wasting calories.
These are just some of the snack options out there. My general rule is I try to make my snacks include a fruit or vegetable, and a little bit of protein. If you ask yourself these questions before snacking, healthier snacks are bound to become a normal part of your diet.
What are some of your favorite snacks?