Product Pick of the Week (Scroll down for Healthy Snack Ideas)
Nutrition highlights (per 2 Tbsp serving): 5 g protein, 3 g fiber, 7 g sugar
What makes it great? When I'm in the mood for something sweet but want to keep things healthy, this is one of my go-to choices! I like it spread atop frozen sliced bananas, but it would also be great paired with sliced apples or pears, too. Another healthy, but slightly more indulgent snack idea: Spread it over a graham cracker square and top with a roasted marshmallow (or banana slice for more fruit goodness).
HEALTHY SNACK IDEAS
One of the things I’ve found from working with people is that many are over-snacking. Research backs this up, too. About 90% of Americans snack multiple times a day, and many say they snack their way through meal times. If your clothes aren’t fitting well or you’re feeling sluggish or bloated, it’s possible your snack situation needs some attention. Here’s how to snack more healthfully as well as some healthy snack ideas.
Healthy Snack Combinations
Most adults only need one to two snacks per day. (People who participate in very tough workouts and are at their happy weight may require a third.) If you think about it, the purpose of a snack is to control between-meal hunger in a healthy way, meaning it should provide nourishment from whole food sources. The healthiest snacks include either a fruit or a vegetable, along with some protein. This combo does the job it’s supposed to do by providing you with protective vitamins and minerals, as well as the hunger-busting nutrients, protein and fiber. Ideally, at least one of your snacks will be comprised of this nutritious package. Here are some ideas to show you what a healthy snack looks like:
A boiled egg and some sliced Persian cucumbers or red pepper strips
A piece of cheese (or a cheese stick) and some grapes
Nut butter spread over an apple or pear
Hummus with veggie dunkers
Sliced turkey wrapped in lettuce leaves
Almonds and dried apricots
Plain Greek yogurt sweetened with fresh or frozen berries
A snack size fruit and veggie smoothie made with some protein powder
Roasted pumpkin seeds with banana
Right-sizing your snacks
To offset weight gain in the 35 and over years, and to slim down if needed, portions need to be right sized. Think about it this way: If you grab a handful of nuts, is it a big handful or a small handful? And if you spread some almond butter over an apple, how much do you spread? A little or a lot? The difference could mean hundreds of unneeded calories, which will ultimately get deposited as fat if you aren’t using them. What does a serving look like?
One piece of fruit or up to one cup
Unlimited non-starchy veggies
A tablespoon of nut butter or about the size of half a golf ball or a poker chip
An ounce of cheese, a thick slice of cheese, or a cheese stick
An ounce of nuts, equivalent to about 12 almonds and 25 peanuts or pistachios
2 Tbsp. hummus or about the size of one golf ball
Make snacks more memorable
When you eat on the fly, you hardly notice you’ve eaten, and studies show you often overlook the food you’ve eaten on the go, in the car, and so on. This can lead to overeating since your mind didn’t share in the experience. As often as possible, plate out your snacks—whether on a plate, napkin, paper towel, in a mug, or on any suitable surface—and put it down between bites. Take note of how you’re feeling as you eat. Halfway through your snack, check in to determine your before and after hunger levels. Do this again at the end of the snack. Most of us need to slow down when we eat to give our brains a chance to catch up and join the occasion. If you aren’t feeling satisfied when you’ve finished your snack, give it another ten to fifteen minutes before foraging for more food. You may find that by then, the feeling has passed.
Ride out cravings
A craving is like a wave. It feels intense, but give it time, and it will crash. It can take about twenty minutes for a craving to subside so if you have a craving for something unhealthy, set the timer for twenty minutes and see if you can distract yourself. Sort through your inbox and delete unneeded emails; file some papers that have been collecting on your desk; clean your junk drawer; read a magazine. You get the idea. If, after twenty minutes, the craving is still there, consider how you might honor it in a way that supports your goals. Here are some healthy snack ideas that do just that.
Craving chocolate? Have a square of dark chocolate.
Craving chips? Have some popcorn.
Craving a cookie? Have a chocolate chip granola bar.
Craving a popsicle? Have some frozen grapes.
Craving ice cream? Have some frozen banana slices.
For more healthy snack ideas, download my free guide!
Or honor cravings
Of course, there will be times you’ll want to honor the call of the cookie or another treat. Eating healthfully isn’t about restriction or deprivation, but finding the magic in the middle. In this case, honoring cravings can be a totally respectful way to treat your body, and especially if it’s a full experience. There is a big difference between a freshly baked small batch donut and one that comes in a box at your local grocery store. The small batch donut is enjoyed in a different setting, and hopefully with some friends who are taking part in the occasion. The store bought donut may be eaten quickly, at the counter, without much thought. When you treat yourself in a way that provides more than a moment of pleasure, the experience goes a long way, and you’ll often find you can get by with these indulgences less often. That’s the goal.