Healthy Snacking

May 19th, 2009

Your stomach is growling, but lunch is hours away. You’re eyeing the cookies on the counter, but know the guilt indulgence brings. If you think your best option is to avoid a snack altogether, think again.

A wide variety of snacks can fit into a healthy diet, if taken in moderation. In fact, they offer a number of benefits, including:

  • BINGE CONTROL. Eating a few low-fat whole-grain crackers, pretzels, a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables may keep you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal.
  • EXTRA ENERGY AND NUTRIENTS. Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between good and poor nutrition.
  • SATISFACTION FOR SMALL APPETITES. Young children can only hold small portions of food in their stomachs. Older adults who are less active and who burn fewer calories also may feel more comfortable eating smaller meals more frequently.

So take care to select foods that can satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients. Here are some top snack picks:

  • WHOLE GRAINS. Whole-grain snacks are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which offer energy with staying power. Look for low-fat whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain crispbreads.
  • FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Eating fruits and vegetables provides a feeling of fullness with no fat and few calories. Plus vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • NUTS AND SEEDS. Nuts and seeds provide protein to keep you feeling fuller longer. Be careful though, because they’re high in calories.
  • LOW-FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus other vitamins and minerals. Choose light and low-fat versions, if you’re looking to limit your calories intake.