I love snacking and am a sucker for snack foods. And research shows, so are most people.
According to a survey done by the International Food Information Council, 97% of those surveyed snack at least once per week, and 57% of respondents have a snack each day. Having a healthy snack can be good and beneficial.
We live busy and hectic lives, and it’s completely normal to feel hungry between meals. While our lives and routines might be a bit more relaxed right now, honor your body’s hunger cues and know that a snack can cause your energy levels to increase and your mind to be more alert. See below for tips and tricks on how to use healthy snacking to your advantage.
First, it’s important to be prepared. Anticipate that you will be hungry between meals and have healthy snacks planned out and take them with you if you are not at home.
Harvard School of Medicine recommends taking healthy snacks with you so that you won’t succumb to the unhealthy snacks that may be in your office breakroom, at a store or coffee shop, or in a vending machine. The key to this is prepping healthy options ahead of time.
The USDA recommends easy wins like fruit (fresh or dried), pre-sliced or chopped vegetables, low-fat string cheese, a single serving container of yogurt, and to-go packs of nuts.
Second, pick nutritiously dense foods that are lower in sugar and less processed in order to be full for longer. Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are your best choices. However, these don’t have to be boring.
Try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable, make your own popcorn at home, use nuts and dried fruits to make your own trail mix or try roasted and seasoned chickpeas. If you pick a processed or prepackaged snack, the American Heart association recommends checking the nutrition label for foods that are low in sodium and added sugar. Or, try to make a healthier version of your favorite packaged snacks at home.
Lastly, be mindful of why and when you are snacking. An article published by the Harvard School of Medicine recommends not snacking while doing another activity, such as watching TV, browsing the internet or playing on your phone. Snacking mindlessly can cause you to overeat, even if you have picked a healthy option.
Additionally, try to assess why you are having a snack. Are you bored, anxious or stressed? Try another activity such a yoga, going for a walk, reading, journaling, or calling a friend instead.
Ultimately, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace, especially considering we are living through a time period that can be very stressful and anxiety provoking. If you would like to practice healthy snacking, try adopting one of the tips listed above.