A Guide to Healthy Snacking

Although most people want to choose healthy nutritious snacks, their plans are often derailed. Snacking is largely about spontaneity but having a little knowledge and planning can make a big difference. To get started, these strategies and guidelines will turn snacking into an opportunity to eat well.

Healthy Snack Principles

Although a favorite snack is not going to be the same for every person, there are some general guidelines to follow:

* Whole foods make the best snacks. This means that choosing more unprocessed or minimally processed foods are going to be healthier than a bag of heavily processed chips. Choosing organic foods is also a good idea for a healthy choice.

* Good snacks contain a mix of carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates provide energy while protein promotes satiety. This is why a good snack could be fruit paired with a nut butter or vegetables with hummus.

* Healthy snacks contain fiber. Although protein promotes satiety, fiber is also a good way to avoid cravings and will make a snack more satisfying. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains primarily although there may be other sources as well.

* Healthy snacks are rich in nutrients. Instead of thinking of a snack as a splurge, think about it was a mini-meal. All meals should contain vitamins and minerals and be more nutrient dense than calorie dense. Choosing foods that contain nutrients and antioxidants can make a difference.

* Snacks should take into account dietary restrictions or preferences. For many people, food allergies are a concern. Think about how dietary restrictions may factor into snack choices.

Putting Together Snacks

For many people, snacks contribute to their calorie intake but a good snack should aim to be no more than 200 calories. Not only will this help keep a healthy diet on track, it won’t contribute to weight gain and may even lead to improved weight loss. Since many people find that they need a snack in the afternoon, make sure to have a healthy one on hand. This strategy will prevent unhealthy snack temptations.

If it’s possible to keep the snack cold during the day such as in a staff refrigerator, pack a snack that is perishable. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants so they’re great choices but need to be refrigerated in most cases, A good basic principle is to use a fruit or vegetable as a base and then add a protein source to make it a more satisfying snack choice. In fact, combination snacks such as cheese and vegetables can help with reducing the number of calories consumed.

Snack Examples

Although not all snacks will fit a person’s dietary preferences, these are a few examples:

* Lunchbox apple with 1 Tbs nut butter

* 1 cup fresh vegetables with hummus

* 1/2 cup nut and fruit mix

* 1/2 toasted bread with 1 slice cheese

* Greek yogurt with fresh fruit

These are just a few examples but the sky is the limit when it comes to healthy snacking. Use these principles to prepare healthy snacks.