Tired of raiding the vending machine? Wishing you had some healthy snacks to munch on at work or at drill? We can help!
The rules of engagement when it comes to healthy snacking are when to snack, what to snack, and how to snack. By learning these steps, you can feel guilt-free about tearing into a snack.
Rule #1: When to Snack
The key is to only snack when you’re actually hungry. (Most people are usually hungry about two or three hours after a meal.) Sometimes you might actually be thirsty when you feel the urge to snack. You can test your level of hunger by drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes. If you still feel hungry, you should eat a snack.
Mindlessly eating can lead to unwanted empty calories, weight gain, and health conditions such as heart disease. Avoid simply snacking because:
- It’s there in the breakroom
- You’re bored
- You’re stressed out
- You’ve always had a snack at certain times of day
Ask yourself if you are truly having hunger pains or just experiencing a craving because you saw something and suddenly wanted it. Try distracting yourself from cravings by focusing on work, taking a walk outside, or calling a friend. Also, say no to late night snacking.
Rule #2: What to Snack
This is the fun part! You have complete control here of choosing what appeals to you. Nutritionists recommend reading the nutrition facts label and making sure a snack has:
- Between 150 to 250 calories
- Up to 3 grams of fiber
- Up to 5 grams of protein
- No more than 12 grams of fat
Here are some healthy snack ideas depending on what you’re craving:
- Tangy – cherry tomatoes, bell pepper slices, apple, or orange.
- Crunchy – baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, or banana oat bars.
- Salty – nuts, sunflower seeds, homemade trail mix, hummus, or air-popped popcorn.
- Sweet – blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, frozen grapes, frozen banana, dark chocolate, low-fat Greek yogurt, or homemade parfait.
- Protein-powered – string cheese, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, avocado, cottage cheese, roasted chickpeas, or canned tuna.
Rule #3: How to Snack
Portion control and presentation can make all the difference. By pre-purchasing and packing your snacks, you can save both your wallet and your waistline from a trip to the vending machine.
Just like meal prep, pick a day to prep your snacks for the week. Pack your snacks in:
- Small plastic baggies
- Colorful tiny containers
- Pint-sized mason jars
Snacking on a carbohydrate and a protein (such as popcorn and string cheese or carrots with hummus) will keep you feeling full longer. You also can exercise mind over matter by pouring your snack into a bowl or on a plate. This way your brain thinks it’s being well-fed, even though it’s just a snack.
If you have certain health conditions, such as food allergies, iron deficiency, or diabetes, check with your medical health professional for a specific snack plan to meet your needs.