I’m a snacker… Snacks have saved me on more than one occasion and hurt me in just as many instances. Below you will find basic snack info and some snack ideas.
1. Why snack?
There are many reasons why snacking is beneficial: decreased likelihood of overeating at mealtimes, more chances to get good-for-you vitamins and minerals, mood boosting, squash cravings. By choosing smart snacks you can maximize pleasure and minimize effort.
2. How can I be a smart snacker?
Make your snacks into mini meals whenever possible, but keep them between 100 and 200 calories. Maximize these calories, not in quantity but in quality. Your body needs carbohydrates, fats, and protein so chose snacks that offer all of these. Choose whole foods (foods that are not processed) first and make sure you are eating lots of different colors. The variable colors ensure a variety of nutrients.
3. When should I snack?
Any time you have a 4-5 hour lapse between meals calls for a snack – it is best to fit it at about the 2-2 1/2 hour mark. Recharging at this point in the break will ensure you don’t deplete your energy source and won’t overeat at the next meal. These numbers are general, your body may be different so listen to your hunger signals.
Proceed with caution
We all know that eating 1/4 of a package of Oreos or an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream may not be the smartest snack options around, but let’s talk about the unassuming snacks. Some of the more dangerous offenders readily available on the market include: energy bars, shakes/smoothies, 100-calorie packs, juice and canned fruit in syrup just to name a few. If these are items you enjoy, there are ways to make smart choices with these items.
- When choosing an energy bar, pick one with less than 200 calories and at least 4g of fiber and protein. The calorie count will keep you within the normal range for a snack and the balance of fiber and protein will keep you full and satisfied longer.
- Those shakes and smoothies you see in the drink section are loaded with extra stuff to make them stable and tasty. For these I recommend just making your own at home with fresh or frozen fruit some yogurt and honey for sweetness.
- When purchasing canned fruit, always choose ones that are in their own juices.
- 100 calorie packs appeared to be a blessing to many. In theory when you finish one bag you have to stop… again that was the theory. These products are often carbohydrate-heavy and contain lots of preservatives. Choose some of the items below and make your own portion-controlled packs. By choosing items from below you will feel more satisfied and get more bang for your buck.
- One english muffin (go for a light whole wheat version) with 1T light nut butter (try Smart Balance with added omega-3) Points Plus: 5
- 1/2c low-fat or fat-free greek yogurt with 1T honey and 1t chopped nuts (any type you like so long as they are not salted) Points Plus: 4
- 1/2c roasted spiced nuts (see the recipe tab for my favorite) Points Plus: 6
- 1c raw veggies (a variety of colors is best) with 1 wedge of cheese (try laughing cow) or 1/2c low-fat cottage cheese Points Plus: 2
- 1c tomato or black bean soup topped with 2t sour cream or 1T light shredded cheese Points Plus: 3
- 5 dried apricots and 1 oz cheese (try camebert or whatever type you like) Points Plus: 4
- 1 multigrain waffle with 1/2c fresh berries and 1t honey Points Plus: 3
- 3c plain popcorn topped with calorie-free seasonings (I like cayenne pepper) Points Plus: 2
- 2T hummus with 1c raw veggies Points Plus: 2
- 2 slices of deli turkey (low sodium) and 1/2c grapes Points Plus: 1
- 1/2c plain oatmeal with 1/4c fresh berries and 1T skim milk Points Plus: 2
- 1/2c party mix – see recipe page Points Plus: 4
- 1/2c light vanilla ice cream with 1/2c fresh berries Points Plus: 3
- 2 small homemade cookies and 1/2c skim milk Points Plus: 4
- 1 hardboiled egg with 6 saltine crackers Points Plus: 4
- 1 medium fat-free latte (I like it with 1t cinnamon) Points Plus: 3
- 4 gingersnaps (I like the ones at Trader Joe’s) and 1 packet diet hot cocoa (try Swiss Miss) Points Plus: 3
- 1 vitalicious product and 1 serving of fresh fruit (apple, orange, grapes, banana, etc) Points Plus: 3
- 7 pretzel twists (medium) and 2T dried cranberries Points Plus: 3
- 1/2c shelled edamame and 1t spices/salt Points Plus: 2
- 10 almonds and 1T chocolate chips Points Plus: 4
- 4 Melba toasts (whole wheat) and 1 hard boiled egg Points Plus: 4