Love to Snack? Make Choices for Good Health
There is a whole lot of snacking going on. At one time snacks were relegated to a light bite for children between the end of the school day and dinner. These days it’s here a snack, there a snack, everyone has a snack. Snacking occasions have exploded to include mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and post dinner. Snacking research indicates that 53 percent of Americans are snacking two to three times a day.
Snacks have evolved from the foods that were once considered junk foods to a market basket filled with stuff to subdue a snack attack. Though 70 percent of snacks are consumed between meals as a bridge to the next meal, today snack foods are often consumed with meals. Snacks can be good for you. They have a positive impact on weight control, curb cravings, elevate energy, and improve mood. The key is to snack in moderation and try to avoid consuming those that are high fat, and calorie laden. Snacks that are good for you are those that contain less fat, calories and sugar, and are nutrient rich.
In choosing to snack-smart, consider the level of activity you will be involved in. Are you headed out to exercise strenuously? Are you indulging in an afternoon of lounging by the pool? Are you packing the car for a road trip?
Week-end Warrior, Strenuous Exercise
The snack pack should include protein and carbohydrates. Suggested foods include chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread, turkey, pork or beef jerky, or low-fat cheese. Fruits such as bananas, peaches, cantaloupe and watermelon provide carbs and potassium that may need replenishing after strenuous exercise. Don’t forget the water bottle—staying hydrated is essential.
Lounging By the Pool
Avoid cocktails and alcoholic beverages. Choose fresh fruit, rice cakes with peanut butter, light popcorn, guacamole and salt-free tortilla chips or fresh veggies, Greek-style yogurt, low fat ice-milk, and 1-oz. portion of walnuts, almonds or peanuts. Sip on a tall glass of ice water with slices of cucumber or lemon.
Whole grain crackers and cheese or peanut butter, mini pita pockets filled with tuna fish, dried fruit and nuts, yogurt-based vegetable dip or hummus with carrots or celery, Greek-style yogurt with fresh fruit, light popcorn. Flavored water or vitamin water.
Snacking is definitely enjoyed all year, however during peak season for fresh and local fruits and vegetables, the produce stand provides ample choices. Produce items can be stand-alone snacks or paired with other foods to create a bounty of snack options. For example:
- Roasted or grilled potato quarters dusted with smoked paprika + herb vegetable dip
- Zucchini or summer squash sticks or wedges + roasted red pepper hummus
- Skewered peaches, plums or nectarines + Greek-style yogurt and brown sugar
- Strawberries +vanilla-chocolate chunk Greek-style yogurt
- Lemon yogurt + strawberries, blueberries raspberries or blackberries
- Graham crackers + peanut butter
- Toasted walnuts or almonds +raisins
- Apple wedges + peanut butter
- Frozen banana halves + peanut butter and chopped peanuts
I hope you’ll rely on some of these snack suggestions and remember to consider your activity level, which we know can vary weekday versus week-end. Just remember all things in moderation and whether you choose the “healthy” snacks or those that are indulgent, set your limits for moderate amounts.
Take Away: Snacks have a place in a healthy diet. Consider snack options making sure that your snack intake balances out with your activity level.