4 Tips to Healthier Snacking
Keeping a healthy diet can be tough when there are tempting treats everywhere we turn. And with 94% of Americans enjoying a snack at least once each day, it’s important to be aware of exactly what we’re feeding our bodies! Eating small amounts of food throughout the day is a crucial part of a healthy diet, which makes “healthy snacking” a hot topic. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind to make sure you are making smart snack choices:
1. Read the Nutrition Facts. If you aren’t already doing so, get into the routine of turning your snacks over to check the nutrition facts. A good rule of thumb is to snack on foods that have high protein and fiber contents and low amounts of sugar. Foods that are packed with fiber and protein will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day; while snacks full of sugar will leave you sluggish and craving more soon after eating. A few smart snack choices that are rich in both fiber and protein are an apple with nut butter, homemade trail mix, or popcorn snacks.
2. Read Out the Ingredients. To truly know exactly what your snacks are made of, it’s imperative to read the ingredients, not just the nutrition facts. If you aren’t reading the ingredients, then you won’t see all of the dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, and other harmful chemicals that aren’t represented in the nutrition facts. Be especially cautious of snacks that are labeled as low-sugar, light, fat-free, or anything like that. A lot of these foods are loaded with sweeteners and chemicals to retain the palatability of the food. A good thing to keep in mind is the fewer the ingredients, the healthier the food. If you’re reading the ingredients on a pre-packaged snack food and find yourself having a difficult time pronouncing multiple ingredients on the list, think twice about putting it in your body.
3. Choose Whole Grains. If you can’t kick the habit of eating carbohydrate-based snacks like popcorn, crackers, and granola bars, opt for whole grain options for a healthier option. Be careful though; many foods that are marketed as whole grains don’t contain as many whole grains as you’d expect. Again, look at the ingredient list to see where whole grains fall on the list. If there aren’t whole grain ingredients within the first three items listed, the whole grain content is probably negligible.
4. Separate Out Portion Sizes before You Are Hungry. Right when you get home from the grocery store, compartmentalize single servings of snacks into plastic baggies or Tupperware for later in the day or week. Don’t wait until you are hungry for a snack to do this, since you are more likely to over eat! In similar style, if you like to sit down with a snack after dinner, pour your snack into a bowl rather than eating out of the box to be fully aware of how much you are eating.
Next time you find yourself hungry or preparing to leave the house for the day, keep these tips in mind to make smart snacking choices. After all, putting a little thought into what we’re buying and eating is a good start to keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle.