7 Healthy Snacking Tips to Get You Through the Week
By SHARON RICHTER
When late afternoon rolls around, are you out of steam and looking for a snack? I hope so! If you ate a balanced breakfast and lunch, the food should be just about broken down, which means late afternoon is the right time for a boost of fuel for your body. Most of us tear open a bag of chips or head to the vending machine for a candy bar or bag of cookies, but these items will only provide instant gratification and are missing crucial nutrients to keep us going.
Here are some tips on what to look for in a healthy snack (along with some examples of the best ones to keep on hand for your upcoming busy days):
1. Protein will always help keep you full, so think about turkey jerky and/or low- or non-fat dairy products like Stonyfield Organic Greek yogurt or low-fat cheese.
2. Munching is always satisfying. It's more satisfying to chew our calories rather than drink them in a sweet soda or fruit drink. For a crunch, bring a snack bag of cut-up vegetables such as jicama, carrots, peppers or sugar snap peas.
3. If vegetables don't work for the crunch, try a portion-controlled low-fat and low-calorie chip like Pop Chips. They are popped, not fried!
4. Still craving afternoon sweets? Do it with a well-portioned protein bar like Balance Bar Dark Chocolate. Balance Bar offers a balanced 40-30-30 ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat designed to provide you with the lasting energy you need to keep going all day.
5. Take some advice from squirrels: Nuts are one of the best items to snack on! They are packed with nutrients and loaded with healthy fats to keep you full. If you are not the biggest nut fan, try a nut butter such as Justin's peanut butter, which is available in individual squeeze packs. They are the perfect portion-controlled snack to grab on your way to work. Plus, one squeeze pack has eight grams of protein to help fight off hunger. Enjoy a pack with a sliced apple -- and remember to keep the skin on for extra fiber.
6. Maybe you crave a snack that is salty and sweet? Try some dried fruit -- two tablespoons of goji berries mixed in with two cups of air-popped popcorn is an excellent snack. These berries are loaded with antioxidants, and air-popped popcorn is a great low-calorie snack.
7. Did you know that the yolk of an egg is a great brain food? Try a hard-boiled egg for a snack. Limit the yolks to five per week if you have high cholesterol.
The key to healthy snacking is to have a bunch of these on hand so you don't end up stuck hungry somewhere and feeling that you need to make an unhealthy choice. Stock up your car, purse, gym bag, desk or wherever you are with a variety of great snacks!
Enjoy, and snack on!
Readers -- Do you get hungry for snacks in the late afternoon? What are your favorite snacks? Did you find these snacking tips useful? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Sharon Richter is a Registered Dietitian who has established a private nutrition practice in Manhattan over the past 10 years. Her objective is to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle by creating incremental goals that are both physically and mentally challenging and, most importantly, achievable. Understanding the importance of nutritional education within the community, Sharon works closely with Wellness In The Schools (WITS), the Challenged Athletes Foundation and also sits on the boards of Healthination, Sports For Youth and Fitist. You can read more at therichterreco.com.