I have always struggled with making healthy snack choices. Usually when I am hungry for a snack I am not in the mood to be creative with preparation and components because I want it right now! I also want snacks that are actually going to curb my hunger, so try to avoid options like popcorn, cereal, and crackers because they feel like empty snacks and leave me still feeling hungry. I am often on the go and I prefer snacks that are portable and convenient. I typically choose an option like a bar because it fulfills these criteria. But, I find myself getting burned out on these options quickly since I choose it often and many are expensive (you pay for convenience), high calorie, and often qualify more as a meal replacement than a snack based on the high calories. What to do? To help myself and hopefully others get back on track with healthy snacking, let’s review some tips:
Health Snacking Tips:
- Snacks should be small and not full meals to keep your overall calorie intake balanced. Aim to keep snacks at 200-300 or less calories per snack. I have included a helpful list below of snacks that fit this criteria!
- Snacks are a great way to include a fruit or vegetable serving since many of us are not eating enough. Many fruits and vegetables can be handheld and portable too, making them an ideal on-the-go snack.
- Snack only when you are feeling hungry. Typically our metabolism does a good job of letting us know when we need a little something to eat between meals. Be careful not to get in the habit of eating out of routine, boredom or stress. Really try to listen to your body’s hunger cues and if you are feeling satisfied, then don’t go for the extra snacks.
Here is a helpful list of snacks that are less than 300 calories per serving:
- Medium apple with peanut butter ~ 280 calories tip: slice the apple and dip in 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- Whole wheat pita pockets and hummus ~ 250 calories tip: consider adding sliced cucumbers and carrots for extra nutrition and crunch without adding many extra calories
- “Ants on a Log” aka few celery sticks topped with peanut butter and raisins ~ 250 calories tip: this is a fun snack for kids to prepare and eat!
Photo credit: Blissfully Domestic
- Half cup of light cottage cheese with a mandarin orange ~170 calories tip: you can use ½ cup canned mandarin oranges in juice or a fresh mandarin orange
- Simple fruit smoothie: mix ½ cup of frozen fruit with ¾ cup non-fat milk and a half cup of plain light Greek yogurt in a blender ~ 175 calories tip: place smoothie in a mason jar with a lid as a portable option
Photo credit: Eating Well
- One quarter cup of almonds, cashews, or pistachios ~155 calories tip: make your own one ounce snack bag to take with you on the go
- Whole wheat English muffin mini pizza (top muffin with a slice of tomato and fresh melted mozzarella cheese ) ~ 151 calories tip: you could also add 1-2 tablespoon of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon shredded cheese if you prefer
- 1 cup of plain light Greek yogurt with ½ cup of fresh strawberries ~ 123 calories tip: a half cup of any fresh fruit would work well here!
Snacking is a necessary way to fuel your day and increase your daily servings of healthful foods like fruits and vegetables. It is important to be mindful of your snacking habits and not to overdo it which can lead to excess calorie intake. Be sure to keep your snacks small and only snack when you feel like you need it! Your body knows best- listen to it!
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