By Alexa McDonald, RD, CDN
With the holidays right around the corner, we could all use a little refresher on how to snack smarter...even me. Snacking is important for keeping your blood sugar and energy levels steady throughout the day to keep you alert and energized as you get through your daily tasks. It can also help you meet your daily nutritional needs, curb hunger at inopportune times, and even help to manage weight, but only when done right. Think about these 5 points when reaching for your favorite between-meal treat.
- Nutritional insurance: It’s hard to get enough whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy throughout the day. Snacking is a great way to fill these gaps. Incorporate items that are nutrient dense rather than calorie dense, like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and hummus These options offer plenty of nutrition for a reasonable number of calories.
- Have a plan: As long as it fits within your daily calorie goal, snacking can help curb hunger without unnecessary weight gain. Snacks range from 100-350 calories depending on your daily needs and activity level. Plan for 1-2 snacks and 3 meals per day to give your body the continuous energy it needs.
- Keep hunger and thirst in mind. Are you hungry? Bored, tired, or just excited for the Halloween holiday to start? Stay in tune to your body’s needs and snack accordingly.
- Satiety. The purpose of a snack is to curb hunger until your next meal. Let your snack fulfill its purpose by aiming for some fiber and protein at each choice. Both of these nutrients will slow digestion, filling you up faster and keeping you fuller longer.
- Stay satisfied. We all want the flexibility to indulge in our favorite treats, but this should be occasional rather than an everyday go to. Instead, find healthy snacks with similar characteristics to your favorite options to satisfy your sweet tooth. Whole grain pretzels and hummus may provide the crunch and saltiness you enjoy from potato chips, where dark chocolate paired with almonds may provide the nuttiness and sweetness you enjoy from a candy bar. Both pack more nutrition and are more satiating!