Give More Thought to Snacks

According to some recent surveys of our dietary habits, 75% of us eat breakfast, 88% eat lunch, and 90% of us snack daily yet we don’t plan snacks like we do other meals.

Eating candy, chips, donuts, cookies and other unhealthy snacks will amp you up and satisfy your cravings temporarily but will cause your blood sugar to rise and just as quickly drop, making you feel lethargic, moody and still hungry because you haven’t given your body the fuel it needs. For those with children, studies have shown that up to 45% of a child’s caloric intake can be in the form of snacks. Therefore planning ahead for snacks is as important as the meals you plan for you and your family.

If you think about your daily snacks as another meal, then that meal should supplement breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s say you serve oatmeal for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch and salmon, brown rice and steamed broccoli for dinner. Complementing snacks would be fruit and some raw veggies such as carrot and celery sticks.

If you have children, does your child attend day care or an after school program? Do you know what snacks are being served? Find out then send a healthy alternative if need be.

Here are some snacking tips:

  • Snack first and then get to chores, homework or other activities. When you eat and do other things, such as watching TV, you tend to overeat because you aren’t paying attention. After school snack time is a great time to take a break and re-connect with family members.
  • If you have it on hand, you will eat it! Avoid buying processed snack foods and stock up on fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains instead.
  • Snacking, like meals, fuel the body. You can get that with a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Hummus and sliced vegetables, for instance, contain all 3 macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and good fats.
  • What time of day do you need a snack? For many adults (and kids) it’s late afternoon. Arm yourself with healthy snacks instead of scrambling and settling for something sugary.
  • Be aware of what you drink. A sugar-sweetened drink or a high-sugar and fat coffee drink is not a healthy snack.
  • Pay attention to portions. According to Dr. Brian Wansink, director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, people think they make about 15 food decisions a day when in actuality the number is well over 200. Some decisions are obvious and others are subtle, such as the bigger the plate, the larger the spoon, the deeper the bag, the more we eat. If you think about this in terms of snacks, then it would be important to measure your snacks. If you are eating veggies for snacks then measuring would not be necessary; eat all you want! (French fries EXCLUDED.)

Examples of Healthy Snacks:

Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut or almond butter

Leftover roasted vegetables (yum!)

An orange and a few raw almonds or walnuts

1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1 slice of whole-grain toast, cut into 4 strips for dunking

Popcorn, seasoned with herbs, garlic, nutritional yeast and a bit of olive oil. Remember to avoid using microwaves.

Plain yogurt with berries

A small tossed salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, or whatever is in season, tossed with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and flax or olive oil.

Hummus or bean dip and veggies or baked whole-wheat pita bread or whole grain crackers.

A small smoothie made with fresh fruit (toss in some spinach leaves!) and whey powder.

Sushi made with brown rice and slices vegetables (cukes, carrots, green onion, red pepper, avocado.)


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