Snacking Smart

A smart snack can be a bridge between meals that can not only provide healthy nutrients, but also keep you from getting too hungry and overeating later. Can you remember a time when you went too long between meals and just felt ravenous.  How did that make you feel?  What kind of choices did you want to make at your next meal?  Healthy, good-for-you choices, or just something to kill your appetite fast?  Snacks can help balance blood sugar levels and keep your appetite in check.

I am often asked what makes up a healthy snack.  Just the other day while talking to a group of folks, I asked what kinds of things they snack on.  One person said they eat fruit all throughout the day.  What could be wrong with that, right? Fruit is great, but would be even better as a snack if it is combined with a little protein and some healthy fat. Combining nutrient-dense, high-fiber fruit – which is a healthy carb – along with some lean protein and healthy fat will make your snack last longer.

I had another person ask about the 100 calorie snack packs.  These snack packs are great for calorie control for sure, but if your 100 calorie snack consists of cookies or some other high carb, low-nutrient snack then again the likelihood is that you will not feel satisfied long and will be digging around for something else soon after.

When you eat just carbohydrates for a snack, whether it is fruit or crackers, a granola bar, or bread, etc., you are likely to feel hungry more quickly soon after eating.  Having the protein and fat along for the ride helps to slow down digestion and better balance blood sugar and insulin levels – helping you to feel fuller longer.  Snacks are a great time to try to squeeze in a fruit or vegetable to help boost your fruit and veggie intake for the day.

The key to snacking is creating snacks that consist of nutrient-dense whole foods based on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, beans, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds.

Here are a few examples:

• 4 oz. 2% cottage cheese with 1 cup sliced strawberries = 122 calories
• Half a Lenders whole-wheat bagel with one tablespoon whipped cream cheese and 1 small orange = 170 calories
• One small apple with one tablespoon peanut butter = 174 calories
• 15 baby carrots with 4 tablespoons of hummus = 175 calories
• One mozzarella cheese stick and 20 grapes =150 calories
• 6 oz. container of Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries = 182 calories
• One small banana with eight almonds =145 calories
• 1/4 cup Trail mix = 160 calories
• 2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 slice Boar’s Head pepper jack cheese and 1 whole kiwi = 204 calories
• 2 whole grain rice cakes with 1/2 an avocado = 175 calories
• 35 pistachios with 1 cup raspberries = 200 calories
• 15 medium cashews with 1/2 a banana = 200 calories
• 3 slices turkey breast lunch meat, 6 whole grain crackers, 1/2 cup red pepper slices = 160 calories

People often think of snacks as a bad thing, but snacking smart can be an important and necessary part of a healthy eating plan.  Snacking smart means planning ahead and having healthy choices on hand.

Often short on time?  You can go a step further and on Saturday or Sunday portion out healthy balanced snacks ahead of time so they are ready to grab and go when you are.  Make smart snacking your focus for the next week or so and see how it makes you feel!

Need help figuring out how many calories you need individually and more tips on what eating healthy looks like for you?  I can provide not only information, but also support along the way.  Email me to set up an appointment at

Have a question or have an idea for a nutrition or exercise subject you would like me to write a blog about?  Just let me know!