The Benefits Of Snacking
If you aren’t keeping a mental list of healthy snack ideas, chances are that your diet is lacking in nutrition and that you are struggling with your eating habits in general. The benefits of snacking are numerous. Allow me to explain just how important a good snacking schedule is to your overall health.
First and foremost, regular snacking helps prevent overeating at meal times. We’ve all been there. You had a slice of toast for breakfast and then a long morning of meetings. When you finally break for lunch, you are starving, and head for a fast fix, taking little time to analyze the nutritional value of your mid day meal. A regular pattern of eating this way leads to a heavier body. Instead, pack yourself a small mid morning snack to have at the office that you can eat on the go if needed. When lunchtime rolls around, you’ll make better decisions about your meal and eat less than you would if you had skipped the snack.
Need more reasons to snack? Numerous studies have found that adults who snack regularly are less likely to be obese. Snacking also helps your body recover from exercise and improves the overall quality of your diet.
Think about it. If you are a woman over age 35, your doctor has probably advised you to add more calcium to your diet to protect against osteoporosis. An easy way to do this without supplements is to incorporate calcium rich foods like yogurt or soybeans as a snack between meals.
Do your kids need to eat more veggies? Serving them an afternoon snack of carrots or celery and hummus is a great way to satisfy their hunger and increase their intake of important nutrients.
Your Snack Time Goal
To get the most out of your snack routine, and keep from wrecking your diet in the process, follow these guidelines.
- Snacks should be somewhere around 200 calories. Any more than that and you are eating a mini-meal, not a snack.
- Make sure that your snack foods are low in sugar. When you eat sugary snacks, your blood sugar spikes and the subsequent drop will leave you hungry and tired. Eating a snack that is low in sugar will have the opposite effect and replenish your body and your energy levels.
- Include fiber and protein in your snacks, always, even if it’s just a little. Your body needs protein for every single cell function, so it’s essential for your good health. Incorporating protein in your snacks makes it easier to reach your recommended daily intake than if you add protein in your main meals only. Fiber plays an important role in your diet, as well. It helps stabilize blood sugar, keeps you full for longer and regulates your digestive system.
Healthy Snack Ideas
- Yogurt: Be sure to choose a small container and read the labels for sugar content. Greek yogurts are usually the best choice.
- Edamame: Many grocery stores sell individual bags of this veggie that you can quickly steam in your microwave. Have a cup of beans in the pod for a quick, tasty treat. Go easy on the salt.
- Cheese and Fruit: You can pair this anyway you like it, but one serving of cheese and a small piece of fruit is a great way to fuel your body between meals.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: This super food is a great source of protein and is easy to carry with you on the go. Add a few whole grain crackers and you’ll be content until your next meal.
- Peanut Butter on A Celery Stalk: Peanut butter sometimes gets a bad rap because of it’s high fat content but it can be a perfect snack if you read your labels. Look for natural varieties that are low in fat and calories or consider buying from a grocery store that lets you grind your own. Fresh ground peanut butter will have fewer preservatives (and usually less fat) than the shelf variety.
Snacks to Avoid
Not all snacks that appear healthy actually are. When choosing the snacks below, be sure to read your labels. If you don’t, you could be eating the equivalent of a Big Mac.
- Popcorn: Popcorn is generally low in calories and high in fiber, making it a great choice for a snack. Beware of the butter and specialty flavors. Some of them have more fat than the same size serving of fast food fries.
- Yogurt: I mention this above but be sure that your yogurt is worthy of being added to your diet. Some varieties are loaded with sugar and will do more harm than good to your diet.
- Muffins: Muffins are basically cake. Seriously. There is rarely anything in a muffin (unless you make them from wholesome ingredients yourself) that adds anything but sugar to your diet. Avoid them.
- Sandwich Crackers: These are not the same as cheese and crackers that you prepare yourself. Prepackaged cracker sandwiches are usually loaded with fat and simple sugars.
You are in control of your diet, and every morsel that you eat either makes you healthier or weaker. Adding a snack between meals can help you satisfy hunger and eat a more nutritious diet overall.