Snacks can enhance, rather than hurt your diet, with proper portions and healthy food choices in place. A snack can be considered a “mini meal” that will help you have a healthy lifestyle!
Food fulfills three basic needs:
(1) To provide energy
(2) To support new tissue growth and tissue repair
(3) To help regulate metabolism
The Benefits of Snacking
- Binge control. You have more control over your hunger cues when you add snacks into your daily intake. By eating every 3-4 hours, you are preventing your hunger cue to move beyond your control.
- Extra energy and nutrients. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and lack of energy.
- Control Hunger Pangs. Helps keep your hunger levels down to a minimum and avoid feeling deprived.
- Control Insulin Levels. Helps keep you blood sugar levels even.
- Maintains Increased Metabolism. Waiting too long in between meals may cause your metabolism to become sluggish
Choosing Healthy Snacks
- Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.
- Even if your main meals are well balanced, it’s easy to put your total diet out of balance with a few poor choices or lack of choices in snacks.
- The most important thing to be aware of is the type of foods you’re snacking on. It’s wise to allow no more than 10% of your total day’s calorie intake from saturated fat, or sugar items.
- Remember, one or two well chosen snacks can actually help to improve your day’s total nutritional intake.
- Opt for snacks of 200 – 250 calories to stay within meal plan goals. Your caloric goal for snacks is dependent upon your activity level and current food routine. Great options for snacks usually come from these food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables provides a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. When paired with a protein, dairy, and/or fat source, it is a complete snack!
- Whole grains. Whole-grain snacks are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which give you energy with staying power. Look for items such as whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain crispbreads.
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds provide protein, so you will feel fuller longer. They can be high in fat, but it’s mostly monounsaturated, a healthy kind of fat.
- Low-fat dairy products. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Dairy products can be high in saturated fat, so choose the low-fat versions.