Tag Archives: fiber

All about Snacks

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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!

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Prebiotics

Since I mentioned that my jicama slaw is high in a prebiotic, I thought I should talk a bit about prebiotics, and how they are different from (and similar to) probiotics.

A prebiotic is a nutrient that helps feed the “good” bacteria in our digestive systems. Prebiotics are “nondigestible” carbohydrates, which means they pass through our digestive system intact without breaking down or providing us any specific nutrition. Fiber is a general term for nondigestible carbohydrate, and while not all fibers are also prebiotics, some specific types are.

Studies have shown that consuming prebiotics can change the composition of the bacteria in your digestive system, increasing the number of good bacteria compared to bad bacteria. This has shown promising effects similar to those of consuming probiotics for people with irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, although research is not conclusive yet.

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin are the most widely known prebiotics. These can be found in acacia gum (gum arabic), beans, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, jicama, raw oats, and unrefined wheat or barley.

If you are trying to increase your prebiotic intake, but don’t want to consume large amounts of the above foods (which is understandable), look for high fiber commercial products with inulin or chicory root extract in the list of ingredients. Some examples include Fiber One, Kashi GOLEAN, some Special K Protein Bars, LUNA Fiber, and Fiber Plus products.

If you decide to start introducing these products into your diet, make sure to do so gradually and to drink plenty of water. Changing your fiber intake too much and too quickly can actually make your stomach problems worse, not better.

Happy eating!

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!

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