To snack, or not to snack. Is that the question? “Snacking can be an important part of a healthy eating plan,” says Judi Sowl, registered dietitian at Ministry Door County Medical Center. “But it all depends on what you eat, and how much.”
Many of us think of snacks as unhealthy “convenience” foods like cookies and chips, making it important to redefine snacking. “A snack should really be a miniature meal that includes a variety of nutrient rich foods,” says Sowl.
Here are six tips for healthy snacking:
- Plan ahead. In order to snack well, you need healthy foods on hand, otherwise you’ll be reaching for that bag of potato chips. Purchase fresh veggies, and wash and chop them as soon as you get home. Keep them in water at eye level in the fridge, making them them easy to grab and munch.
- Appeal to the eye. A bowl of fresh fruit on the counter is pleasing to the eye, and may inspire you to make a healthy choice.
- Variety rules. Include 2-3 food groups in your snack. Peanut butter on apple slices with a couple of whole grain crackers, or low-fat cottage cheese and avocado slices on a piece of whole grain toast are perfect examples.
- Eat mindfully. Instead of mindless munching in front of the television or computer screen, take the time to sit and enjoy your snack. “If you’re hungry enough to need a snack, take the time to do that. If you’re not, skip it,” says Sowl.
- Portion size matters. For adults, a 100-200 calorie snack is about right. Active teens and children need more calories. Be sure to portion snack foods that pack a caloric punch. “Nuts make a great snack, with their combination of protein and healthy fat, but it’s easy to overindulge,” says Sowl. “About two tablespoons of nuts is all you need.”
- Think mini-meals. A cup of soup or a whole grain waffle with a dollop of yogurt and fresh berries make a satisfying snack. Or try a small whole wheat tortilla with black beans, low-fat cheese and salsa.
Would you like help developing a personal approach to healthy eating? Learn more about Lifestyle Nutritional Coaching at MDCMC.
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