Snacking plays an important role in maintaining a healthy diet. If you’re having trouble getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs from your main meals, healthy snacks can fill in the gaps. Snacking can help you manage hunger in between meals and keep blood sugar at proper levels. Consuming healthy snacks at the right time and in the right proportion is the key to getting the most from your snacking habits.
Unfortunately, many people defer to packaged junk food like cake, doughnuts, chips, cookies and sodas for their typical snack in between meals. Such foods have little to no nutritional value. In order to benefit from the snacks you eat, you need to think healthy. What does healthy look like? If you were to make a healthy snacks list, foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains which are rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants would definitely be on it. When you commit to eating healthy office snacks, healthy movie snacks, healthy party snacks, healthy school snacks and healthy bedtime snacks, you’re well on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Plan Your Snacks
Poor planning is one of the greatest deterrents to healthy snacking. When you don’t plan for a healthy snack, it’s easy to make unhealthy choices. Lea Crosetti Andes, registered dietitian, pretty much sums it up when she says, “One of the major problematic areas with snacks is the lack of planning. Grabbing whatever is in sight to feed the intense hunger can lead (you) to consume empty calories excessively. Planning snacks can help to assure that there is some nutritional value being consumed.”
Planning is important, whether you snack at home, in school or at the office. If you entertain often, it’s important to plan healthy snacks for your occasion. Whether you’re preparing a homemade snack or buying snacks from the store, advanced planning will help you select snack foods that have greater nutritional value.
2. Distinguish between Snacking and “Grazing”
Eating a healthy snack from time to time is one thing; continually snacking without giving much thought to what you’re eating, aka “grazing”, is another. Grazing can quickly add up to extra pounds and excess spending. By planning snacks in advance, you’ll eat a more balanced diet that includes carbs for energy, protein to satisfy hunger and fiber for better digestion. Finding the balance is key to healthy snacking. A balanced snack will leave you feeling satisfied and provide greater nourishment to the body.
3. Serve Reasonable Proportions
It’s better to eat small portions from a plate or bowl than snack directly out of a box or bag. By snacking directly from the bag, you risk overeating and gaining extra pounds. Serving small portions gives you better control over the quantity of food you consume. There’s no point planning healthy snacks for work, healthy school snacks or even healthy late night snacks if you’re going to go overboard and blow your diet.
Benefits of Snacking
Healthy snacking should provide some benefits, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Physically, healthy snacking will improve your overall health, increase energy levels and help you lose weight loss. Mentally, healthy snacks can improve concentration, increase memory and enhance mental alertness and awareness. Emotionally, yummy snacks are a source of joy and inspiration. Whether you favor healthy sweet snacks or healthy spicy snacks, you have much to gain by choosing healthy snack options.
Snacking and Kids
Healthy snacks are good for children as the extra nutrients help promote a child’s growth and development. Whether you buy prepackaged snack packs or make snacks at home, healthy kids snacks will increase your child’s vitamin, protein and calorie intake to keep him or her healthy and strong. The Internet offers a wealth of information on homemade healthy snack ideas for kids as well as ideas for healthy snacks to buy. A good snack will satisfy your child’s hunger in between meals and provide extra energy to keep him or her going all day long.
Here are a few suggestions for quick easy healthy snacks for kids that you can make at home.
Yogurt-Fruit Smoothies – Delicious and nutritious, smoothies combine the vitamin power of fresh fruit with protein rich nonfat yogurt.
Healthy baked goods – Zucchini muffins, carrot bars or sweet potato bread add more veggies to your child’s diet without compromising on taste or flavor.
Yogurt parfait – Low-fat yogurt mixed with natural granola and fresh berries makes a tasty, nourishing treat.
Peanut butter – Spread protein rich peanut butter on rice cakes or mini waffles for fun and variety.
Whole grain waffle sticks – topped with a healthy fruit jelly, whole grain waffles make a refreshing snack that will boost your child’s iron and B vitamin intake.
When it comes to healthy snacks for the classroom, healthy packaged snacks make good options. Some school systems provide healthy snacks for kids at school as part of their lunch menu. Smart parents, however, will make a list of healthy snacks before shopping to ensure they get nutritious snack options for their kids. Healthy kids school snacks can help boost children’s concentration and focus in the classroom as well as provide more energy for sports and play. Here’s a peak at some of the top 10 healthy snacks you can buy for your kids to help supplement their diet.
Snack mixes containing healthy nuts, pretzels, dried fruit and banana chips
Fresh fruit in the form of apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, peaches, etc., when in season
Low- sugar, high-fiber granola bars or granola trail mix
Applesauce snack cups
Chocolate pecan popcorn clusters
Vanilla yogurt raisins
Multi-grain pita puffs
Sea salt popcorn
Planning your children’s snack schedule takes the burden out of finding easy healthy snacks for school or home consumption. In addition to planning healthy school snacks, parents should look into healthy snack options for after school, evening study hours or right before bed. Many parents serve their young kids a healthy snack before bed to help them sleep better throughout the night. If your kids are having a slumber party, healthy night snacks can add to the fun and excitement.
Here are a few guidelines for developing strategies that will lead to smart snacking habits.
Stick with small portions so snacking doesn’t compete with main meals.
Serve snacks every 3-4 hours in between meals so as not to detract from mealtimes.
Use snacks to complement meals in adding nutritional value to your kids’ diet.
Don’t let your kids eat simply out of boredom.
Pay attention to your kids’ snacking needs, letting their hunger or lack of appetite be a guide in when to snack and when to refrain from eating.
Try not to reward or bribe your kids with food.
Always have kids healthy snacks on hand to give your children healthy choices. Take into consideration personal likes and dislikes as well as the possibility of food sensitivities and allergies.
There’s no need to avoid snacks in order to lose weight. In fact, eating healthy snacks can actually help you lose weight by stimulating your metabolism and filling you up so you eat less during meals. Healthy snacking doesn’t require spending lots of money. By shopping around, you can find a variety of cheap healthy snacks for any occasion. You can also make inexpensive and easy healthy snacks at home.
The best healthy snacks are those that are filling, nutritious and appeal to you and your family. Everyone has different tastes, so be sure to add family favorites to your healthy snacks list before you go shopping. Having a list makes it easier to get exactly what you and your kids want. Healthy kid snacks may differ from healthy snacks for teens or even what you would prefer to eat in the way of healthy easy snacks for adults.
What are some healthy snacks for weight loss? Here are some popular nutritionist approved choices.
Greek yogurt with berries and honey
Grapes and walnuts
Gluten-free whole grains bar
Wheat Crackers and cottage cheese
Mediterranean hummus platter
Cooked oatmeal with blueberries
Banana with peanut butter
Low Carb Healthy Snacks
One of the best ways to lose weight is to control your appetite. A ravenous appetite can be a big hurdle to weight loss. Low carb and no carb healthy snacks that are rich in good fats will sustain you longer in between meals, giving you less of an appetite for large meal portions. Low carb, low sugar foods make great options for heart healthy snacks for people who are prone to heart problems and need to be careful with their diet.
What makes a good low carb snack? A snack that’s rich in protein, low in sugar or sugar free, low in calories and rich in healthy fats. Cheese, nuts and seeds, lean meat, eggs and fish all fall under this category. Healthy fats are those that contain the fat soluble vitamins, i.e. A, E, D and K.
The best low carb snacks are those that are readily available on the market and require little preparation. Healthy on the go snacks are always a convenience to have around. They’re portable for carrying, can be kept in a drawer or locker at school or on the job and make little to no mess when consumed. Some popular low carb foods include:
Hard boiled eggs
Raw veggies (celery, cucumber, carrots) with cream cheese dip
Foods that are low in calories and filling make good snacks for people wanting to lose weight. Healthy filling snacks will satisfy your hunger without adding fat to your stomach. According to Cynthia Sass, registered dietician and nutrition expert for Health Magazine, “One of the biggest challenges when you’re trying to lose weight is combating hunger and the desire to eat. Foods that contain fiber, protein, and plant-based fat tend to be the most satiating.” Snacks that are rich in these nutrients help to slow down your digestion so you feel fuller longer. That full feeling will automatically prompt you to eat less at meals so you can lose weight.
Another advantage of snacking on low calorie foods is that you can consume larger portions. If you’re looking for ideas for healthy midnight snacks, try some of these low calorie favorites. They’ll satisfy your hunger without compromising your waistline.
Slow churned or double churned ice cream
Mini quesadilla with corn tortilla
Cup of bean soup
Tips for Holiday Snacking
When you incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle, preparing healthy snacks will be the norm for most every occasion. This includes holiday get-togethers, birthday parties, dinner parties, summer BBQs, etc. As the seasons change, you’ll be looking for ideas for healthy Halloween snacks, healthy Superbowl snacks, healthy summer snacks, etc. If you and your family travel on vacations, you’ll appreciate the convenience of healthy roadtrip snacks or healthy prepackaged snacks to keep you happy and healthy on the road. Having tasty healthy snacks in the car makes traveling that much more enjoyable for the whole family.
How Healthy is Beef Jerky as a Snack?
Natural beef jerky contains a wide range of nutrients that can benefit the body. In addition to protein and healthy fats, natural jerky contains zinc to strengthen your immune system and good cholesterol to protect you from cardiovascular diseases. From one ounce of beef jerky, you gain approximately 12 g of protein and only consume 80 calories.
There are numerous benefits to making healthy snacks a permanent part of your diet. A healthy snacking lifestyle can change your life for the better as you reap countless health benefits both now and in the years to come.