By Camille Rhoades
You weren’t expecting that title while you read a newsletter about being healthy now were you? The truth is, that snacks are a very important part of a healthy diet. Moms everywhere have uttered the words, “Don’t fill up on that or you won’t have room for your dinner” but the truth is that healthy snacking will help far more than it will hurt. So, why is snacking so important?
Snacking helps control your appetite so you are less likely to overeat at mealtime.
Snacking provides a source of frequent energy.
Snacking is a wonderful way to add in extra servings of fruit, vegetables, and proteins that meals might not be supplying. Trying to fit all the recommended servings of the Food Pyramid in to three meals can be daunting, but healthy snacking can help you fit them in.
Snacking provides more opportunity for variety in your diet and can really make eating more enjoyable.
All that being said, there are obviously some snacks that are healthy and some that are not. I know, there are many compelling arguments for how chocolate and chips may fit in to the Food Pyramid, but I think it is fair to say that when we are speaking of “healthy snacking” we are leaning away from the “Fritos and Coke” way of thinking. There is a simple equation for getting the best out of our snacking.
Balance + Variety + Moderation = Healthy Snacking
When snacking, make choices that provide the nutrients you need to stay balanced and healthy. Snack on a wide variety of foods to make it exciting and delicious. And, just as everything else, exercise moderation! Carrots may be very healthy, but if that is all you ever eat you will be unhappy, unhealthy, and lets not forget orange!
A little chocolate on a frozen banana is a fantastic snack that can fill a craving and provide nutrients. A small handful of nuts is an excellent source of protein, while the entire can may be a little over the top. Stay balanced, eat things in moderation, and make sure you are getting a variety of textures, flavors, and nutrients and your snacking will really enhance your diet.
Planning Your Snacks
Having a plan and preparing for it will save you money, time, and calories when you get a snack attack. Just like everything else, a little effort up front makes good results much more realistic and if you have healthy snacks ready to grab and go you will be much less likely to fall for the vending machine trap. Here are some ideas for planning and preparation:
In the Cupboard
Keep ready-to-eat-cereal, whole grain cereals, pretzels, nonfat crackers, low fat bagels, canned/dried fruits, air-popped/microwave light popcorn, baked tortilla chips
In the Refrigerator
Keep washed fresh fruits, pre-cut vegetables, yogurt, lean ham, turkey breast meat, skim or 1% milk, lower fat cheeses, salsa
In the Freezer
Keep strawberries, grapes, bananas, fruit bars, low fat or nonfat frozen yogurt
At the Mall
Choose soft pretzels, nonfat frozen yogurt cone, jelly beans, salads with light dressings
Choose fresh/canned/dried fruit, bagels, pretzels, popcorn, water packed tuna
Whole grain or low fat crackers, low fat yogurt, crackers with peanut butter, low fat cheese
Other examples of Smart Snacking may include: (notice the moderate portion sizes!)
Graham crackers (3 squares)
Ginger snaps (2 small)
Reduced fat crackers (5-6 crackers)
Pretzels (1 oz)
Ready-to-eat- cereal (1 oz)
Popcorn (3 cups)
Fig cookie (1)
Fruit (1/2 cup, 1 medium piece)
Grapefruit (1/2) - melon
Strawberries / Blueberries
*a little chocolate is a great way to add some spunk to fruit snacks every now and then – in moderation!
Vegetables (1/2 cup cooked, 1 cup raw)
Low fat, no added sugar yogurt (1 c.)
Skim or 1% milk (1 c.)
Cottage cheese (1/2 cup)
Lean ham (1-oz)
Skinless turkey breast (1-oz)
Peanut butter (I Tbsp)
Fat free refried or black bean spread
Peanuts/rnixed nuts (2 Tbsp)
Sunflower seeds (1-oz)
(these add flavor and extra nutrients)
Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
Ready-to-eat Cereal with nonfat milk and/or fruit
Toast with fruit spread or peanut butter
Bagel (1/2) with low fat cheese or peanut butter
Raw Vegetables with fat-free plain yogurt or fat-free ranch dressing
Fresh Fruit with fat-free vanilla yogurt or cooked oatmeal
Tortilla with fat-free beans or vegetables
The options for healthy snacking are endless and can really help boost your healthy eating habits so try some new snack ideas and share your favorites with your friends!
If you have any additional tips that you'd like to add, please post them on the Cook'n Club Forum (if you're a Cook'n Club Member)...or e-mail them to Dan@dvo.com.
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