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. During the holiday season, it is especially helpful to stay on a good routine regarding meals and snacks, so your blood sugar stays stable and you are less prone to over or undereating.
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. Look for snacks that have protein and complex carbs and fiber.
- 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. Keeping shelf stable protein bars in your car may be helpful if you often have days where you experience delays in schedule. (Talk to your doctor about which kinds of bars or protein drinks are best for you.)
- 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