My life seems to be filled with the word snack lately. My little one recently added that word to her vocabulary and requests a snack anytime she isn’t getting her way. Every other blog post I read is about preparing after school snacks for kids. Recipes for snack type foods are popping up everywhere with the resurgence of football season.
But snacks aren’t just for kids or for munching your way through a lazy day on the couch. Snacks can be healthy contributions to your diet. Eating a snack when you are hungry between meals can prevent overeating at your next meal. Snacks can provide a boost of energy in a slow part of your day. Snack time can be a great time to get more servings of fruits and vegetables. You just need to keep a few things in mind.
-A snack should be about 200 calories or less. As you will see in the examples below, that isn’t a lot.
-You shouldn’t be adding calories to your total daily intake with snacks. If you eat a snack between lunch and dinner, you need to eat less than you normally would at dinner.
-Snacks ideally include fiber and protein. Both of these nutrients can help you feel full longer, increasing the benefit of snacking between meals.
-There is no hard and fast rule of when or when not to eat a snack, but I would suggest not eating a snack within one to two hours of a larger meal. Eating that close to a meal will either lead you to eat without listening to your body as your satiety cues will be suppressed or lead you to skip a meal and graze on less healthy items later.
Here are a few snack ideas to get you going:
– 1 peanut butter banana oatmeal bar
– 1 container of nonfat Greek yogurt with ½ cup of berries
– 1 medium apple and 1 string cheese
– ⅓ cup hummus with 1 cup of carrots or celery
– Trail mix made with a mixture of dried fruit and nuts. Most single serving packs available are under 200 calories, but you could also make your own using about 2 tablespoons each of almonds and raisins.
– ½ sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 ounce of turkey, ½ ounce of cheese, lettuce, and tomato
– 1 medium banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
Hope that helps and happy snacking!
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!