Snacking is a way to keep your appetite under control in between meals. When you go without food for long periods of time your metabolism slows down, your body craves carbohydrates to use for a much needed energy boost. When it comes time to finally eat it’s hard to consciously choose healthy foods and a proper portion size. Although snacking can seem like your worst nightmare it’s more about controlling what types of foods you snack on and how much you choose to consume. It is these two principals that make snacking a dieter’s best friend. When trying to lose weight, most people cut out snacking to reduce their calories, however this can actually lead to over consumption later on. Rather, you should eat smaller meals throughout the day to help control appetite, ward off cravings, and regulate your blood sugar.
Choosing the right snacks can be difficult, especially when trying to lose weight. You want to eat something to satisfy your craving that is low in calories and healthy. Your snack doesn’t necessarily have to be low fat as long as you keep your portion sizes and food choices under control. By pairing two different food types together you will feel fuller for longer, just remember to reduce the amount of each food that you eat. So the next time you’re feeling hungry or its time for a snack choose foods from this list to keep you full and satisfied.
1. Fruit-Fruit is excellent for a snack. Whether you eat apiece by itself or pair it with cheese, yogurt or a dipping sauce, it has wonderful nutritional value and is low in calories. Most fruits are naturally sweet, which curb cravings for sugar snacks.
Additionally they are a great source of fiber, have high water content and some contain antioxidants, anticancer, and heart disease fighting properties. For the quantity of melons and berries that you’re able to eat for a snack they are surprisingly low in calories. Melons include watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and casaba. Berries include raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries. Dried fruit can also be consumed because it maintains the fiber, vitamins, and minerals, however they tend to be higher in calories and can sometimes contain added sugar. Always remember your portion size when you eat dried fruits. The best fruits to eat for a snack include melons, berries, apples, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and red grapes.
2. Vegetables- Vegetables are a great source of nutrients, which makes them a perfect snack food. Vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are very low in calories. Vegetables can be eaten alone or paired with other foods such as celery and peanut butter, cucumbers and hummus, carrots and low fat rand dressing, etc. Because most vegetables require some type of preparation such as cleaning, peeling or cutting, its best to prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in plastic baggies or Tupperware containers.
3. Nuts-Nuts are a great snack food that can be eaten on the go and stored easily. Nuts are a valuable source of fiber, antioxidants, protein, vitamins and healthy unsaturated fats. However, they run high in calories and fat so maintaining an appropriate serving size per sitting is necessary. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are preferred for snacking purposes.
4. Legume-Legumes are a “whole food” that provides the body with essential nutrients such as fiber, protein, minerals, amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Legumes are complex carbohydrates, which keep you feeling fuller for longer. Although legumes don’t seem like a good snack food, most often they are made into a puree, dip, or added to a salad. The best legumes for snacks are beans, chickpeas, hummus, and tahini (pureed sesame seeds).
5. Dairy-Dairy is a great source of calcium, which builds strong bones, protein and vitamins. Its best to use low fat or fat free dairy products for snacking to avoid consuming high amounts of saturated fats. Yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, hard cheeses, milk, cream cheese, and sour cream are good sources of dairy foods for snacking. For yogurt beware of the added sugars which hike up the calories. Greek yogurt is thick and has a naturally sour taste, but is also higher in protein than normal yogurt. When measuring out serving size be careful with cheeses because even the low fat or fat free kinds tend to run high in saturated fats. You can consume 1/2 cup of soft cheese in one sitting and a couple of cubes of hard cheese such as mozzarella or Monterey jack.
6. Whole grains- Most snack foods consist of refined grains such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes. Refined grains are high in sugar and fat without any healthy benefits. Whole grains on the other hand have fiber, vitamins and minerals, which provide the body with nutrients and energy. When looking for a snack turn to whole grain food products to fill you up and keep you going. Some whole grain food products include whole grain crackers, tortilla chips, pita wedges, English muffins, rice cakes, cereals and popcorn. Light or low fat popcorn is great for snacking and is naturally high in fiber. Avoid butter, which adds fat and calories. Another option is 100% whole wheat or multigrain, however you want to watch out for added sugar and high saturated or trans fats. Whole grain snack foods are great combined with cheeses, dips, spreads, or fruits. Remember portion size when combining two food groups.
7. Nutrition Bars- Nutrition bars are a great snack to take on the go. They are easy, maintenance free and portable and most often contain a good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They come in all kinds granola, cereal, fiber, protein, and tons of flavors for everyone’s different tastes. The fiber and protein will keep you full and satisfy your craving until your next meal. Always check the ingredient list for a high number of calories, sugar, fat and any added chemicals.