By Kierra Brown DTR
SNACKS. What is the first thought that crosses your mind when you think of snacks? What is your favorite or go-to snack? Is it a snack high in vitamins and minerals or low in added sugar and fat? Is it chocolate-y, salty, or sweet? When you thought of snacks, did you associate it with an unhealthy diet?
According to a research study, the most consumed snacks in America are candy, fruit, chips, ice cream, nuts, cookies, bars and crackers. An important question to ask is why do we snack? It may be to satisfy hunger between meals, satisfy a craving, get an energy boost or pass the time. It could also feel the need for nourishment or be purely emotional. The reasons for snacking are diverse and varied.
Snacks can account for up to a quarter of our daily calories so to avoid unnecessary weight gain you must snack smart! Healthy snacking can keep you fuller between meals, focused during class and activities and prevent you from overeating. Snacks can be more than just added calories but a source of healthy benefits!
For example hummus and baby carrots provide nutrients needed to support healthy digestion; increased feelings of fullness and support healthy vision. Greek yogurt and blueberries provide essential nutrients to benefit healthy eyes, hair, nails, skin and bones as well as being heart healthy and rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Try to snack on foods that are full of vitamins and minerals like calcium and fiber. Snacks that are high in fat, sugar or sodium do not make the top picks for snacks.
Tips to snack healthy:
- Combine at least two food groups
- Pair protein rich foods with foods from another food group
- Use smaller containers and utensils to limit portions
- Choose foods that are your favorites, convenient and affordable
- Combine indulgent items with healthy items e.g. chocolate chips and nuts for trail mix
- Be mindful of what you leave on the counter (Is there an opened bag of cookies, potato chips or fruit on your counter?)