By Shoshana Kosman, RD/LD
Most people think that maintaining a healthy diet means restricting your calories, eating three square meals a day, and avoiding snacking altogether. However, snacking is a crucial way to maintain a healthy weight because it can help curb your appetite between meals, thereby preventing you from binging on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods during meal times. As a general rule of thumb, it’s good practice to eat once every three hours so that you don’t end up becoming so hungry that you make a poor diet choice at the next meal.
Here are three easy ways to make sure you are snacking smart:
- Choose a healthy snack. It’s tempting to go for a bag of chips or a handful of cookies when you need a pick-me-up, but these kinds of snacks are not nutrient-dense and not very filling, so you are more likely to overeat. Aim for snacks that consist of both a protein and a carbohydrate and that are nutrient-dense.
- Plan ahead. Whether you’re on the go or hanging out at home, it’s helpful to have snacks pre-made, so you have easy access to healthy options when hunger strikes. Make snack preparation a regular part of your Sundays by putting together enough snacks to hold you over for the entire week.
- Limit your intake. An average snack should be between 150 and 200 calories.
Try making the following snacks throughout the next week or two, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a smart snacker:
- One package of string cheese with two rice cakes
- One small apple with one tablespoon of peanut butter
- Half a cup of carrots with two tablespoons of hummus
- A hard-boiled egg with one slice of whole-wheat toast
- Three whole-wheat crackers and a quarter cup of tuna
- Four ounces of yogurt or cottage cheese and a quarter cup of blueberries
- A quarter cup of almonds and half a banana
- One ounce of avocado, one rice cake, and two slices of turkey