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Snacking – Should We?

Snack-337x337There are many misconceptions about snacking and people often think they should avoid it. This, however, is not true! Snacking can be very beneficial to your health and when done right, snacking actually promotes weight loss. Planning healthy snacks between meals will boost your metabolism and curb your hunger. When your appetite is in better control, you are less likely to overeat.

Snacking and Food Groups

Healthy, balanced diets are filled with whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Snacking is a great way to ensure you eat enough of these nutritious foods. Snacking is all about making the right choices. It is best to think of your snacks as an opportunity to nourish your body.

Lean proteins are the building blocks of life and make up every cell in our body. They are important when trying to lose weight because they help maintain muscle mass and increase satiety. Lean proteins include fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, and dried beans and peas.

Whole Grains consist of the entire grain kernel. They are high in B-vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber helps create a feeling of fullness which is helpful when trying to lose weight. Dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol and may reduce your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some examples of whole grains include popcorn, whole wheat crackers, and whole wheat bread.

Fruits and Vegetables are also high in fiber and  loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.They play a key role in helping prevent heart disease and protecting against certain cancers. They are also low in calories and fat which are ideal for those trying to lose weight.

Healthy Fats are needed to absorb antioxidants and fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. Fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as olive or canola oil, are beneficial to your health and can improve good cholesterol. Some additional healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and nut butters. Like protein and whole grains, healthy fats increase satiety and provide a sense of fullness.

3 Important Snacking Tips

  1. Scheduled, pre-planned snacks are a must. Consider eating every 2-3 hours. Keep a variety of healthy foods on hand such as whole grain crackers, low-fat cheese, or fruit. This will help you stick to a schedule.
    Example schedule:

      • Breakfast 8:00 am
      • Snack 10:00 am
      • Lunch 12:00 pm
      • Snack 3:00 pm
      • Dinner 6:00 pm
  2. Refrain from grazing between meals. This will often lead to over-eating. If you notice you snack out of boredom or as a way to cope with emotions,  fill that urge with another activity. Go outside for a walk, drink herbal tea, or talk with a friend.
  3. Control potions. Purchasing bulk items are a great way to save money but divide these foods into single serving bags to take with you. You can also purchase individual serving foods such as 100 calorie nut packs and individual cups of yogurt. Controlling your portions will help you control the amount of calories you eat.

10 Snack Ideas

To  increased a sense of fullness and  satiety, it is best to combine lean proteins or healthy fats with fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.

  • Small apple and ½ tablespoon of almond butter
  • A low-fat string cheese and 10-15 grapes
  • Half a sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread with 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of nuts, seeds, and dry fruit
  •  1 cup of carrots dipped in 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 cup of strawberries dipped in 6 ounces of low-fat yogurt
  • 1 small tomato sliced and drizzled with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 2 tablespoon of low-fat feta cheese
  • 1 hard boiled egg and 2 clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of guacamole and whole grain tortilla chips
  • 1 cup of cucumbers dipped in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette dressing

 

Image courtesy of Oksana Kiyan on Flickr

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