8 April 2014 10 Smart Snack Ideas

It's 3:00 in the afternoon and your stomach starts to grumble. All of sudden, those donuts in the break room are very tempting. You hear the potato chips in the vending machine calling your name. Your fingers start to walk towards the mini individually wrapped chocolate bars in your desk drawer.

You are hungry; however, you have eaten healthy all day and do not want to defeat your weight loss efforts by splurging on an unhealthy afternoon snack.

What should you do?

Plan ahead and predict these hungry afternoon moments when the “snack attack” occurs. As long as you do not over-spend your day's calorie budget, a healthy eating plan can include snacks.

Snacking tips:
  • Plan ahead by packing a snack. Some of my clients bring all 5 afternoon snacks on Monday so they don't have to think about packing a snack for each day of the week.
  • Plan snacks that contain less than 200 calories.
  • Plan to purchase nutrient dense snacks that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories.
  • Plan “portion control” snacks by measuring single servings in plastic bags or containers.

Enjoy one of these 10 smart snack ideas.

Can you pick out the foods that contain protein in each of these smart snack combinations?

  • 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter spread on apple slices
  • Low-fat yogurt with 1/4 cup of nuts topped with strawberries
  • Turkey breast lunchmeat and low fat cheese melted on a whole wheat tortilla in the microwave and dipped in salsa (yes, salsa is a vegetable and rich in the antioxidant lycopene).
  • Make your own trail mix: Mix and put in individual container: 1/4 cup nuts, 1/4 cup dried fruit and some cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber also keeps you fuller longer.
  • 2 T. hummus and cut up vegetables such as sugar snap peas, carrots, and red pepper slices
  • Low-fat cheese stick and pear slices
  • 1/4 cup of black beans spread on a whole wheat tortilla and dipped in salsa
  • Cottage cheese and tomato
  • 3 T. Parmesan cheese mixed with popcorn and eaten with freshly-cut apple slices (I love this sweet and salty combination for an afternoon snack!)
  • Make your own smoothie: 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt blended with 1 cup frozen fruit of choice

As you probably guessed, the foods that were listed first in the smart snack list were the foods high in protein. By combining a protein food and a carbohydrate food together in one snack, you will not only feel energized, but you probably will feel fuller longer (perhaps, even until dinnertime!).

Protein provides satiety. During weight loss, a feeling of fullness is important because it helps a person eat less. Carbohydrates increase your blood sugars and give you energy. Combining a protein food with a food that contains carbohydrates helps even out the way blood sugars are absorbed (prevents them from spiking) as well as prevents blood sugars from dropping too quickly during which a person feels fatigued and can have large mood swings.

People with diabetes, have been using this snack method for years; however, combining a protein and a carbohydrate can also help people who are trying to lose weight because a person feels energized and fuller longer.

Print out this hand out called “I'm Hungry. What is a Healthy Snack” and use it as a shopping list next time you are at the grocery store shopping for “smart snacks”. Mix and match foods in each column in the hand out to fit your food preferences. Add your own ideas at the bottom.

Remember that a snack is only as good for you as you make it. Focus on snacks that are filling and sustaining. By planning ahead, when the “snack attack” strikes, you will be prepared with fun, flavorful foods that add quality to your diet.

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Meal Planning & Diets/Snacks

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