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Essential Snacking Tips From Snack Girl

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Healthy Snacking Tips

What is the best way to snack? This age old question has been answered by many health experts and nutrionists, but Snack Girl has her own answer.

The first question is: "Is snacking bad?" Like any decent politician, I refuse to answer this direct question. But, instead, I ask you to reflect on your own eating habits.

Are you eating meals during your day or snacking all day?
For me, the answer is snacking all day. I find that I don't have time to sit for lunch or breakfast. I am usually getting my kids their breakfast and making their lunches in the AM, and the afternoon is just a quick sandwich. Dinner is the one meal that I would not call a snack.

Now, I know this isn't necessariy the best way to eat. And, I definitely have bad habits, but I also believe that most of us are the same way. We are juggling school, work, kids, relationships, family, the gym, etc. Our time is just SO precious that we have determined that eating comes last.

Before I start writing specific tips about snacks, the most important part of healthy eating is to consume fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I know it is boring, but the more whole foods that you eat - the better you will feel.

So, what are my tips for our "snacking" lifestyle?

  • Make each snack a mini-meal.

Do you eat carbs, protein, and a vegetable for dinner? Well, do the same for your snacks. Snacks are AS important as meals in getting you some quality calories to run on.

  • Ignore the snack aisle.

The snack aisle is full of empty carbohydrates and junk food. Food marketers have defined the word "snack" for us - don't let them! A snack is anything you want it to be - leftovers, a banana with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, etc.

  • Plan your snacks.

This is a difficult one for most people. Usually, we feel hungry and grab a snack from a vending machine, convenience store, fast food outlet, etc. Think ahead and you will save yourself from eating unhealthily.

I find it easier to plan my snacks if I have a few tools at my disposal. For example, I have a Swiss Army Knife for cutting up an apple at work (and a jar of peanut butter in the work fridge).

On Sunday, I pack little baggies with 100 calories of my favorite nuts and shove them in my purse for an emergency. These tricks will save you both calories and money!

Please share your healthy snacking tips below.

Want to read about snacks?
Mix It Up For A Delicious Snack
100 Calories of Snack From Russia
Healthy Halloween Candy: Take Two
A Ridiculously Simple and Elegant Party Snack



14 Comments:

Thanks for your information...As a "payback" for all the great information you have fed me over the past year or so, I am including a link for you and your readers to an area of my site that is typically reserved for people who purchase my book.

I believe that sustained weight-loss includes eating a lot of snacks (delicious and healthy) during the day.

At the site, I have included over 10 amazing snacks...and a lot more information.

Enjoy ... http://bit.ly/bokcX5

To everyone's good health.

Ken Leebow
http://www.HighSatiety.net

on October 5, 2010

Thanks for sharing these great tips! You make snacking healthy, easy, and enjoyable!

~Kati

on October 5, 2010

I love the "mini meal" idea (as long as it doesn't include dessert!). My snacks end up being empty calories because I get so hungry between meals and just grab something. For me, peanut butter on a whole wheat Englihs muffin has been a life-saver.

on October 5, 2010

My favorite snack is string cheese + handful of almonds + a few slices of fruit. Often I eat this for breakfast because I'm in a hurry!

on October 5, 2010

Wonderful advice, Snack Girl, but just one thing. Whole foods don't have to be boring. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be quite tasty -- even tastier than anything Big Food can trump up.

on October 5, 2010

My favorite snack is an apple with peanut butter. Combines good carbs with protein and fat.

on October 5, 2010

You're right. As long as a snack is something to hold you over, and is like a mini-meal, it works. I have a hard time with typically American snacks, because I find it's hard to stop eating after one or two handfuls.

Have you read Mindless Eating? I just started it today, and it sounds like it's up your alley. (Found your blog through Lilveggiepatch!)

on October 5, 2010

I like to snack on fresh fruit in the summer such as watermelon and canteloupe. Unfortunately, in the winter these are not so good where I live! Airpopped popcorn is another favorite. For my son's lunch (who is a little on the husky side), I make a trail mix with cashews, peanuts, raisins and then I add a few dark choc M&M's. He still gets a small treat but most of it is the healthier stuff. Since this is his treat for the day I think he is eating way better than the average 12 year old.

on October 5, 2010

Very smart snack attack advice. I tend to pack breakfast & lunch, then parsel them out when I get a few minutes to eat. Love the snack aisle avoidance. Those 100 calorie carbo packs are evil. I'll just sit down and gorge. Lol.

on October 5, 2010

I think the apple and peanut butter idea sounds great in theory, but it's so easy to overdo it with peanut butter, particularly when you're eating something as large as an apple. I try not to eat more than a tablespoon of peanut butter at a time (per day, really), or many nuts in general as they pack a lot of calories for very little volume.

I also plan snacks, but what I tend to do is make my own oatmeal bars, low-fat, sugar-free muffins, or if I have the chance, just eat homemade soup. The most filling and nutritious snack is a cup of vegetable-based soup that has been pureed (pureed foods take longer to digest than individual whole foods). A cup of pumpkin soup will fill me up for hours.

I don't see how I eat as "snacking", but more like meal splitting. I eat about 4 or 5 times a day in planned meals. The main difference between a "snack" and a "meal" for me is that one involves some sort of cooking or preparation (and often an accompanying beverage) and the other is a bit simpler.

on October 5, 2010

healthy snacks are surely not boring. If you snack on fresh food, you will crave it rather than the junk food. I would say that yes, we do need snacks. Just make the calories count - choose nutritious snacks over pre-packaged ones. If you have to slice, peel or steam it, snack away. If it comes wrapped in plastic with a shelf life of over a year, skip it.

on October 5, 2010

I plan snacks during the week while I'm at work. I tend to need one or two. Usually they are complimentary to what I am eating for the rest of the day - if I need additional veggies, then I bring carrots or celery. If I need more protein, then homemade beef jerky or hard boiled egg. I also snack on almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds a LOT. Occasionally a piece of fruit too. If I have more time, it's sometimes homemade granola or another treat like that.

on October 6, 2010

i so appreciate your insights and practical advice! it is such a challenge to navigate a world filled with snack aisles, esp with children. one of the challenges i would like to work on is the whole guilt that can come for me with "eating between meals," aka snacking, which has been ingrained in my thinking as a "bad" way to live. just the question "is snacking bad?" reveals some of the stuff that surrounds the concept of snacking (and food in general, perhaps). what you make clear is the need to be conscious and thoughtful about what we eat and then to have a clear plan -- and what i need to be on top of is how all the various parts of the plan (i.e. meals and snacks) fit together into something that serves me and my well-being best. i want to check out MINDLESS EATING -- that's definitely part of the snack thing for me, and that brings the guilt later.

on October 16, 2010

I love this article! It isnt anything that most people dont know, but its a good refresher on things we might have forgotten. I tend to get away from this stuff.

I also just came across a page that has a TON of healthy snack ideas. Thought I would share: http://knowledge-nuggets.com/nutritious-and-delicious-snacks-the-huge-list/

on October 16, 2010


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