It’s 4pm and your stomach is growling. Should you hit up the vending machine, reach for the apple in your purse”or just ignore those hunger pangs until dinner? Here’s the lowdown on how to snack”the healthy way.
Is it okay to snack?
Many people are under the misconception that snacking is bad for us. But it’s just not true. Snacking between meals can actually have a positive impact on your health, as long as you choose the right kinds of foods and leave the junk alone. Healthy snacks can provide nutrients that you may not be getting from regular meals. Plus, they give you an extra boost of energy to get through the rest of the day. Snacking may even help keep you from eating too much at traditional meal times because you will not be as hungry, and therefore less likely to overdo it.
What’s the right way to snack?
Most of us have found ourselves eating junk food just for something to do or because it is there. If you need something to nosh on, the best way to avoid giving in to the temptation of unhealthy, processed snack foods is to swap them for healthier alternatives (and keep the Kit Kats and Doritos out of the house completely). Avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, sodium or calories as these treats usually offer little in the way of nutrients and vitamins.
What are healthy snacks?
Snacks that are high in fiber and fall into one of the four food groups are the best choices. Choose fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy products to break through your cravings. Processed foods such as chips, popcorn, ice cream, cookies, candy, donuts, or other high-sugar pastries are the some of the worst choices you can make. When you’re away from home, always try to carry a few healthy snacks with you so you won’t be tempted by vending machines or fast food joints.
How often should you snack?
Almost as important as what to snack on is how much and how often a person should snack. Generally, an active person should snack no more than three times a day and limit it to small portions. Keep snacks under 200 calories and try to include both protein and carbohydrates in order to feel full longer and to get an energy boost.