Do you remember this old refrain: “Don’t eat that! You’ll spoil your dinner!”? Thanks in part to such parental advice over the years, snacks have received a bad reputation—not only as dinner spoilers, but diet saboteurs as well.
However, nutrition experts agree that healthy snacks definitely hold a place in your day. In fact, they can help provide you with essential vitamins and minerals, give you an energy boost, curb hunger until your next meal and stave off that late-night refrigerator raid.
That said, the operative word is “healthy.” Just like any other food you eat, you want your snacks to offer you plenty of nutrients. So instead of reaching for chips or a cookie, opt for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products and seeds and nuts (go easy on the latter, as seeds and nuts are high in calories). You also need to be mindful of portion control (remember, it’s not a full-blown meal). And only snack when you’re hungry, not when you’re stressed or bored.
Keep your snacks to 100 calories and under, and you won’t bust your daily calorie budget.
It may be tempting to just purchase one of those handy 100-calorie snack packs that seem to be all the rage. But as Consumer Reports points out, those snack packs may not taste like the original version of the snack, they’re pricey and studies have shown that people who ate the small snack packs actually consumed more than they would from full-size ones.
Rather than draining your wallet, why not whip together your own snacks by trying these:
- Three cups of air-popped popcorn
- One-half cup of sliced kiwi fruit mixed with one-half cup of sliced strawberries
- One cup of raw broccoli with three tablespoons of fat-free ranch dressing for dip
- One slice of pumpernickel bread, topped with one slice of lean, thinly sliced deli roast beef and one tablespoon of horseradish
- One 3.5-ounce container of vanilla fat-free pudding, sprinkled with raspberries
- One 1-ounce slice of low-fat cheddar cheese, served with one-half cup of red seedless grapes
- Two tablespoons of peanuts
- One-half cup sliced cherry tomatoes tossed with one-half tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkled with oregano and a pinch of salt
- One-half of a whole-wheat English muffin, topped with one-quarter cup (or less) of tomato sauce and sprinkled with one-half tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
- One slice of extra-lean ham, rolled up with one 1-ounce slice of low-fat Swiss cheese