When you hear “snacks,” the foods that probably come to mind are pre-packaged foods, such as chips, crackers, and granola bars. However, these are not the only available options. It is important to shift your perceptions of snacks toward healthy foods, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, cheese, and yogurt, that are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients. Snacks can definitely be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, but as with anything related to your diet plan, it depends on what and how much is being consumed.
One of the major snacking pitfalls is failing to plan. When a snack goes unplanned, you are more likely to grab whatever is in sight, and this usually leads to excessively consuming empty calories. When you are able to plan your snacks, then you can make sure that there is some nutritional value to your snacks and that it is on track with your diet plan. Even planning for the “unplanned snacks” can be helpful. For example, you can keep some Quest bars, nuts, or roasted edamame on-hand for those days when you do not have time to plan fresher snacking alternatives.
Another common pitfall that accompanies snacking is mindless eating. There is a difference between “having a snack” and continuously “snacking.” When you are constantly grabbing a few handfuls of this and that throughout the day, the calories can still add up and leave you feeling unsatisfied even if all your snacks are healthy options within your diet plan. Thus, make a small bowl or plate of your snacks. When the plate is empty, know that you are done. When you snack directly from the box, you may not realize that you are full until the box is completely empty.
Balance is key to healthy snacking. You want to treat snacking like you would your meals except that the snacks are much smaller. That means you need to include a well-balanced mix of proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats. For example, you can have one hard-boiled egg with ten pistachios, or you can have one laughing cow cheese with three medium celery stalks. The idea is to promote satiety while still providing nutritional value.
Take advantage of the days where you have more spare time to prepare healthy snacks for the entire week. Incorporate balance by mixing proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats to your diet plan, so you can have satiety and nutrition. Remember to place the snacks in a bowl or plate to serve as a visual reminder. And, of course, remember to sit, appreciate, and enjoy your snacks.