Snacking has gotten a bad “rap” over the years! Most people think of snacking as having a candy bar, sitting on the couch with a bag of chips or spooning a pint of ice cream into your mouth, but as a registered dietitian, I am going to argue snacking is healthy and important. It’s all about what’s in your snack!
Whether for you at work or at home, there are a variety of eating opportunities over the course of a day. The goal is to keep your body fueled all day long! When the body does not have adequate nutrition, energy levels drop. Thus, it is important that parents and kids get three square meals (breakfast, lunch dinner) plus 1-3 healthy, nutrient-rich snacks throughout the day.
Snacking can be a great tool for maintaining a healthy weight and keeping energy levels up. First, small meals and snacks eaten frequently throughout the day keep your body energized and your blood sugar stable. Second, having a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon can help you from feeling famished at the next meal and from running out of energy at a workout. Finally, eating snacks opens the door to include more nutrient-rich foods throughout the day such as fruit, yogurt, almonds and high fiber granola bars.
So, what should your snacks consist of? Every snack should have two parts. First, all snacks should have some form of high fiber carbohydrate such as a fruit, an oat-based granola bar, a serving of 100 percent whole wheat crackers, etc. Carbohydrate is the body’s #1 source of energy and thus should be eaten often throughout the day. However, that is not all! Second, make sure your snack has a lean protein or healthy fat such as Greek yogurt, string cheese, almonds, natural peanut butter or even avocado. Protein and fat slow down digestion and help you feel full faster and stay satisfied longer. Attack your snacks with these 5 nutrient-rich options:
- 1 serving whole grain crackers and 1 oz cheese
- 1 high fiber granola bar and 15 almonds
- 6 oz low-fat Greek yogurt and 1 cup whole grain cereal
- 1 apple and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 banana and a hard-boiled egg