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To Snack or Not to Snack? How to Snack Smartly!

How to snack for awesome health.

Jun 04, 2021

To snack or not to snack?  That is the question.  The answer?  Yes…but snack smartly! Snacking can be a great way to keep your body energized between meals, especially if you have long gaps between eating in your schedule.  And when you’re active or playing sports, you need to properly fuel your body by eating the right healthy snacks, pre and post exercise.

Snacking can be a healthy habit--If you pay attention to your body's signals!Snacking can be a healthy habit--If you pay attention to your body's signals!Courtesy of Mayclinichealthsystem.org

How do you know what works for you?

Well, are you hungry between meals?  Long gaps in eating could invite ravenous cravings for sugary, starchy foods and too-big portions when you do eat.  Snacking can be helpful for maintaining a healthy body weight for those who have blood sugar issues or those who have trouble with portions and mindful eating.  On the other hand, if you find that you tend to overeat when you snack or you don’t really feel hungry between snacks, then do what feels right.

Consider these questions.  Before you take a bite, think about the why.  Are you truly hungry?  How hungry?  Can your hunger wait until your next meal, or are you ravenous?  Are you energy-drained and looking for snacking to fill your tank?  Are you bored?  Depressed?  Are you in a social situation that is affecting your judgement?  Is the food there, “so you might as well eat it?” 

Temptation, hunger and low energy levels are three common reasons why people choose unhealthy snacks.  Too much snacking, or spontaneous grazing, could also sabotage your efforts to get fit by piling up the calories, so you want to keep your portions in check, and plan your snacks ahead of time.  “No fat” and “no sugar” does NOT mean no calorie!

Learn how to snack smartly!What should you snack on? Learn how to snack smartly!Courtesy of Theconversation.com

What should you eat, how much, and when? 

A mid-afternoon daily snack (around 200 calories each depending on your activity level) every day works well.  If you’re on the go a lot, keep nuts, fruit, or other healthy options in your bag. When you snack, try not to watch TV or look on your phone at the same time.  Don't inhale your food at the speed of light--Enjoy it!  Pay attention to when you start feeling full, and stop eating then.

Our supermarkets, lined with shelves of sugary, processed, inviting foods, don’t make choosing our snacks easy.  You must read labels! Check sugar and fiber content.  Granola and protein bars can be efficient and convenient, but many of them are loaded with too much sugar and fat.  It’s wise to limit processed snacks and opt for fresh, natural foods whenever possible.  These foods naturally contain the correct balance of fiber, protein, nutrients and natural sugar your body needs. Find what you enjoy eating and fill your kitchen with these foods.  Pretty soon, they’re all you’ll be craving (most of the time)! 

Never tried an avocado?  You're missing out!Never tried an avocado? You're missing out!Courtesy of Solidstarts.com

Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Small handful of nuts like unsalted peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • Half or whole avocado
  • Low-sugar granola
  • An apple, sliced, or banana, spread with peanut butter

Healthy snacking possibilities abound!Healthy snacking possibilities abound!Courtesy of Csnews.com
  • A ½ or whole 100% whole wheat bagel or English muffin, spread with 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Baby carrots (or other veggie), dipped in 1 serving of hummus
  • Whole-grain cereal, preferably containing 8 or less grams of sugar, with milk
  • Air-popped popcorn (light on the butter, or skip it!)
  • Hard-boiled egg

Find snacks you love!  Eating should be both enjoyable and nourishing.Find snacks you love! Eating should be both enjoyable and nourishing.Courtesy of Thespruceeats.com
  • Low sugar yogurt (12 grams or less) with berries/granola, cinnamon, etc.  Get creative! Greek yogurt has much more protein, which provides long-lasting energy
  • Lower-sugar protein bar
  • Fruit/veggie smoothie with milk and/or plain yogurt, veggies and/or frozen fruit