Oftentimes, when someone is trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, snacks get a bad rap, but are they something to avoid? If we do need fuel between meals, what are the best things to reach for? Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, helps us with the top tips for choosing balanced snacks that will help us feel our best.
Snack with a Purpose
There’s a difference between “snacking” and having a snack. “Snacking” is often the haphazard reaching for foods that are appealing to the taste buds and easy to eat. When snacking, it’s also easy to lose track of the amount eaten while consuming highly palatable, calorie dense items. Alternatively, a smart snack has a distinct beginning and end planned. Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, suggests plating snacks just as you do a meal. When the snack has been portioned out, you’ll be much more likely to stick to the right amount of food your body needs at that moment.
Bridge The Gaps
Think of snacks as a “bridge” to get to the next meal. Snacks can actually be helpful to your health goals by ensuring you don’t get overly hungry and thus become more likely to overeat at the next meal. They also are a perfect way to “fill in the gaps” of your meals. For example, if you notice that breakfast was lower in protein, it’d be wise to focus on the protein at your mid morning snack. Or if you didn’t get much veggies at lunch, packing in the fiber filled produce at your 4pm snack break could be helpful.
Hold Off Hunger
When reaching for a snack, it’s key to focus on foods that will help stabilize your blood sugar and also create long term satisfaction. Just grabbing crackers would fill you up in the moment, but the carbohydrate-focused food would cause your blood sugar to spike, then subsequently dip, thus leaving you hungry for more in no time at all. For best satisfaction of hunger, the key nutrients to aim for are fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
To create a well balanced snack, look to pair one volume-filled, lower calorie food with another more nutrient dense item. The volume from fibrous things like vegetables, fruit, or whole grain carbs will help fill the feeling of hunger with a lesser amount of calories. This will ensure the snack stays a proper size instead of quickly becoming as many calories as a meal. But it is important to also include a more nutrient dense item to keep you satisfied, such as something with protein or heart healthy fat.
Still feeling a little uncertain how to choose a balanced snack? Check out this helpful chart for inspiration- choose 1-2 items from the produce or carbohydrate columns and 1-2 items from the protein or fat columns. This will ensure the snack will fill you up and keep you satisfied!
Whole Grain Crackers
Have further questions about how to fuel your body best to reach your personal goals? To schedule a one-on-one session with Jamie Miller, the Village dietitian, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.