Change your snacking to healthful snacking
Jodie Orwig, RD, LDN | 03.25.13
The problem with snacking is not the act of snacking, but what we are choosing.
Let’s face it. Snacking has gotten a bad reputation. Why is that? Well, what foods do we commonly think of when we think of snacking – chips, candy, cookies, and ice cream. And we don’t see ourselves with a small bowl of chips or a dixie cup of ice cream; we take the whole bag which contains eight servings, or we take two or three scoops of ice cream to fill a large cereal bowl.
The problem with snacking is not the act of snacking, but what we are choosing. Snacking actually is a good nutritional practice, as long as we select healthy foods and control the portion.
Healthful snacking offers many benefits such as increased energy and mental clarity, as well as causing fewer cravings for junk food. A balanced snack helps keep our blood sugars in an optimal range, meaning we won’t drop too low between meals.
"Snacking healthfully is a great way to manage hunger and keep your appetite in check."
A good rule of thumb is to not go longer than three to four hours without eating. Our bodies prefer smaller, more frequent meals during the day as opposed to fewer larger ones. If we fill up on healthful foods during snack time, we will eat more reasonably portioned meals.
Snacking provides additional nutrients that you may may not get during meals.
In addition to controlling our appetite, snacking can provide additional nutrients that you may may not obtain during meals.
There are some good snacking rules to follow. Try these ideas:
Plan snacks ahead of time and portion out servings into a separate small bowl or snack bag.
Also, take snacks with you on your travels in order to avoid vending machines and concession stands. By the way, this not only saves you calories, but also money!
Okay, does that mean you can never have empty calories such as cookies and cakes for snacks. Absolutely not. Just have these items less frequently and in controlled portions. Realize that occasional indulgence will help prevent eventual binging down the road, from deprivation.
Also, remember that environment plays a role in our snacking habits. We eat more non-nutritious snacks when watching TV because of the junk food ads we are exposed to. Try turning your TV off during commercials.
Environment plays a role in our snacking habits.
Also, try going to the kitchen to have your snack, then return to the TV room to finish watching your program. I guarantee you’ll eat less. You will be conscious of what and how much you are eating and not be distracted by your program.
Remember, healthful snacking starts in the grocery store. What you bring home is what you will eat. Shop in the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid those interior isles where the processed snack foods tend to be.
Healthful snacks are a balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. They are naturally high in fiber, which keep us fuller longer. Try to keep snack choices at about 200 calories.
Choose some of these items to keep your snack on track and prevent a snack attack:
trail mix with whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and nuts
- string cheese and carrots
- apple with peanut butter
- whole grain crackers with almond butter
- yogurt with nuts
- turkey and bell pepper roll-ups
- hummus on ½ whole wheat pita
- tuna salad on 1 slice whole wheat bread
- The list is endless……………..MUNCH ON!
Jodie Orwig, RD, LDN
Clinical Nutrition Manager
WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital
- Smart snacking for adults and teens
- 25 healthy snacks for kids
- Healthy Kitchen Pinterest board
- Nutrition myths & facts
- 10 tips for eating healthy on a budget
- The food label: Your tool for making healthy choices
- Video Blog: Take time to make change
- Protect your body through food
- A healthy kitchen makeover
- The power of parents: Healthy eating