Smart Snacking

Snacking often gets a bad rap, but when used wisely it can be a useful tool for both energy balance and weight maintenance. Don’t think you’re a snacker? If you can go between lunch and dinner without being ravenous by 5pm then perhaps that’s the case.  But if dinnertime rolls around and you are cramming in any food you can get your hands on then you are in need of some smart snacking.  Going longer than about 3-4 hours without a snack can start to slow down your metabolism and skew your blood sugars; not to mention increasing the likelihood of overconsumption during the next meal.

A healthy snack can cut down on hunger and help you avoid bingeing.  By planning snacks between your meals you will balance your blood sugar and energy levels, so that you never arrive at a meal so hungry you are unable to make a smart choice.

  • Make sure the snack you choose is what you want in terms of salty, sweet, crunchy, or smooth – this will help make sure you feel satisfied.
  • Ask yourself: are you really hungry? Or just thirsty? Drink a glass of water before diving into a snack
  • The ideal snack should be 200 calories or less. Remember: a snack is not a meal.
  • Plan your snacks in advance. This can save you time and can also save you from making poor choices…or having no choice at all!
  • Try to get some fiber and/or protein to help decrease cravings more than a high fat or high sugar snack would.
  • Carry healthy snacks with you at all times.
  • Snacks are a great way to help you get in your daily fruits and veggies
  • Snack strategically, not mindlessly!

 What constitutes a smart snacking? A healthy snack should:

  • Taste good
  • Be filling
  • Be satisfying
  • Have no more than 200 calories
  • Be nutritious
  • Be easy to bring/keep at work
  • Have at least 3 grams of fiber
  • Have approximately 7 grams of protein
  • 7 grams of total fat or less (< 2 g saturated)
  • Have 0 grams trans fat

Snack Ideas

100 calorie Snacks:

  • ½ a medium sized apple (or 1 small apple) with 8 almonds
  • 1 hardboiled egg with ½ cup berries
  • ½ cup low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with a handful of blueberries
  • ½ cup high fiber cereal (try Kashi GoLean) with ½ cup skim milk
  • 1 low-fat string cheese with ½ red bell pepper sliced
  • 2 ounces of turkey with 5 whole-grain crackers
  • 1 brown rice cake with ½ tablespoon all natural peanut butter
  • 6 ounces fat free chocolate milk and ¼ cup strawberries
  • ½ medium banana dipped in 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 7 baby carrots dipped in 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 3 cups plain popcorn with cayenne pepper

200 Calories:

  • A slice of whole grain toast with 1 tablespoon all natural peanut butter
  • Homemade smoothie: 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, 1 cup skim milk OR soy milk OR 1 cup fat free plain yogurt; 1 scoop protein powder
  • Low fat string cheese OR 1 ounce low-fat cheese with one serving of fruit
  • 1 ounce of nuts = (approximately) 16 almonds, 22 peanuts, 11 walnut halves, 25 pistachios, 16 cashews
  • Hardboiled egg with 6 high fiber crackers
  • 3 tablespoons hummus on ½ whole grain English muffin topped with sliced tomato and cucumber
  • ½ cup non-fat cottage cheese with 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks or cantaloupe


Copyright Colleen Hurley,RD

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