You don't need to avoid snacks if you’re trying to eat healthy. In fact, the right snack can tide you over between meals and keep you energized and alert. Smart snacking helps keep your weight in check and prevents you from filling up on junk food.
But now that you’re likely spending more time at home, you may find yourself snacking mindlessly because you’re bored, anxious, or frustrated – or simply because the kitchen is beckoning to you 24/7.
Snack the Smart Way
Are you mindlessly reaching for food throughout the day? Take control of your snacking with these eight tips.
Listen to Your Body (and Mind)
In a recent podcast about eating healthy at home, registered dietitian Katherine Basbaum points out that snacks don't have to be part of your diet at all.
"A lot of people feel like, 'I should be having three meals and three snacks per day,'" she says. "That's not the case. Snacks are for if you get hungry in between meals. They shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories unless you need to gain weight."
Before you reach for a snack, decide whether you’re truly hungry or just stressed, bored, sad, or eating out of habit. If so, distract yourself until the craving passes. Try:
- Taking a short walk
- Reading a book
- Playing with your kids or pets
Think about what you’ll snack on long before snack time arrives. Otherwise, you may wander into the kitchen and just grab whatever is handy, even if it’s not the healthiest choice.
For example, wash and chop veggies while you’re waiting for your toast to pop at breakfast. Place them in the front of your fridge next to the hummus.
Take a Break
When it’s time for a snack, stop what you’re doing and really enjoy what you’re eating. If you snack mindlessly while working at your computer, watching TV, or doing chores, you’ll likely overeat – and won’t even enjoy your snack.
Coordinate What you Eat
To ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients throughout the day, eat snacks that don’t resemble the day’s meals. For instance, if you have eggs for breakfast, it’s not the day to have a hard-boiled egg at snack time. If you’re splurging on pepperoni pizza for dinner, eat fresh veggies or fruit at snack time and skip the cheese.
Keep Snacks Balanced
If you’re looking for smart snacks that keep you satisfied until your next meal, combine fiber, healthy fat, and protein. Some good choices include:
- Parfait made with fruit, granola, and yogurt
- Hummus and veggies with flatbread
- Whole-grain crackers and canned tuna
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Half an avocado stuffed with cottage cheese and topped with hemp or chia seeds
Mix and Match
Variety is important, especially for kids. Don’t eat the same snack every single day. Stock your pantry and fridge with a selection of healthy snack foods everyone at home enjoys. Then, there’s always something ready to grab when it’s snack time.
Need Some Snack Inspiration?
We have a great selection of recipes for any occasion or diet restriction.
Be Mindful of Portions
It’s easy to over snack when eating things like chips or nuts straight from the bag or crackers out of the box. Read the label to determine the suggested serving size. Then put that amount in a bowl, and put the package away before you start to eat.
Create Your Own Smart Snacking Mixes
To save money, purchase healthy ingredients in bulk and portion them out into grab-and-go bags or containers at home. For example, mix nuts, dried fruit, mini-pretzels, and/or yogurt-covered raisins.
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