Plan Your Snacks
Snacks can fit into a healthy eating plan and provide an energy boost between meals if they’re planned right. Choosing nutritious foods can help reduce sources of empty calories and added sugar. Snacks for people who are less active should be 200 calories or less.
Make snacking a smart habit by:
• Snack only when you’re hungry. Eating out of boredom or for emotional reasons can lead to weight gain. Rate your hunger before reaching for a snack and avoid mindless eating.
• Plan and portion snacks ahead of time. Fixing snacks in advance, like washed and cut-up fruits and vegetables, air-popped popcorn, and low-fat cheese, can save time later on.
• Practice food safety. Keep perishable foods refrigerated or in a cooler bag with ice packs to help reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Keep your snacking lively by including snacks that contain grains, especially whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Some examples include fat-free yogurt with fruit, whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, or raw veggies with hummus. Eating different combinations of foods can be very satisfying and help to curb hunger. Snacks that include fruit can also satisfy a craving for something sweet.
Make your own ready-to-eat snacks at home:
• Make your own trail mix by combining whole grain cereals, nuts or seeds and dried fruit. (Hint: portion into ¼ cup servings)
• Blend your own smoothie by adding 1 cup fat-free milk and frozen fruit to a blender.
• Mix 3 cups air-popped popcorn with grated cheese or dried spices.
• Bake vegetable chips, like kale or beets.
• Roast chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) and season with spices.
• Make a dip using low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for raw vegetables.
• Cut up fruit to make kebobs and serve with low-fat yogurt dip.
• Slice a medium apple and eat with 1 tablespoon of peanut, almond, or sunflower seed butter.
• Cut a whole wheat pita into wedges and serve with 2 tablespoons of hummus or bean dip.
• Make a veggie pizza by topping a whole-wheat English muffin or pita with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, ½ cup diced fresh veggies, and 1 ounce low-fat mozzarella cheese.