Get Your License to Snack
Snacks account for 25 percent of our daily calories and although our nibbler's diet has gotten a bad rap, it actually can be good for you! But wait. Before you race to the vending machine, keep in mind that nibbling can make or break the nutritional quality of your diet, your stamina, and even your health, depending on what you choose. Emphasizing the nutrients and de-emphasizing the sugar, fat, and salt works wonders for improving a snack. Learn how to get your license to snack with tips from Elizabeth Somer, RD. Snacking might be all about spontaneity, but a good-for-you snack takes a game plan!
The secret is not to add more snacks to your usual diet, but to divide your current food intake into four or five little meals. In other words, have the oatmeal topped with nuts for breakfast, but save the glass of milk and banana for the mid-morning snack. Also, make sure you are choosing good-for-you snacks.
That means following a few rules:
1. Keep it simple. A healthful snack takes little preparation and always is in easy reach. That means:
- Stock the kitchen with colorful fruits like berries and oranges, vegetables like baby carrots and broccoli flowerets, nuts, yogurt, and other grab-and-go real foods.
- Have quick-fix equipment for making and storing transportable, healthful snacks. For example, the Oster® Pro 1200 is versatile, easy to use, and convenient. Blend a smoothie of yogurt, mango, orange juice, and banana, then screw on the lid and off you go with a snack packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber that fortifies and energizes your day for under 200 calories! The extra large 24-ounce smoothie cup that comes with this blender allows you to make a smoothie that will last all day.
2. Combine fiber with protein. Fiber-rich foods fill you up and provide energy, while protein keeps blood sugar levels even between meals. That's as easy as making a large batch of homemade hummus (for protein and fiber) in the Oster® Pro 1200 blender on Sunday that can be combined with baked tortilla chips and baby carrots or spread on celery sticks for crunchy-and-creamy snacks throughout the week. Oster®'s dual direction blade technology allows for extra blending power to chop and grind with precision.
3. Mix and match. Include at least one of the following at each snack: fresh fruits, vegetables, and/or whole grains. Then pair that with one of these: nonfat milk, yogurt, or cheese; a slice of extra lean meat, fish, or chicken; cooked dried beans and peas; or nuts or nut butters.
4. Keep it small: Aim for 150 to 250 calories - tops.
5. Only minimally-processed foods. Snack on oatmeal not a granola bar, a baked potato not potato chips, nonfat yogurt not ice cream, and a slice of whole grain bread not a doughnut.
6. Finally, grab a snack only when you are honestly hungry, not because the doughnuts are there or because it's a habit.
Tuck healthy snacks in your briefcase, purse, glove compartment, desk drawer or mini-fridge at work. That way you're prepared when hunger strikes to fuel your body and your health!
Elizabeth Somer, RD, is a registered dietitian who has carved a unique professional niche as a dietitian well-versed in nutrition research. For the past 35 years, she has kept abreast of the current research, packaging that information into her newsletter Nutrition Alert, easy-to-read books, magazine articles, lectures, continuing education seminars, spokesperson projects, and practical news for the media.