Contrary to popular belief, snacks are far from a dietary evil to be avoided at any cost. They can even help you sneak more veggies into your day or bump up your intake of the vitamins and minerals you need. For example, nibbling on trail mix with nuts and pepitas can add extra iron, and a snack of yogurt will provide extra calcium. Research shows that high-quality snacks help maintain your energy levels throughout the day while also helping you avoid overeating at lunch and dinner. So, what makes a great snack?
go-to snacks to carry with you
If you’re constantly on the go, you might consider snacks that fit into small containers and don’t require refrigeration. Plus, they’re far less likely to get crushed in your bag or go soggy! Pack yourself a small container of mixed nuts. They are not only tasty but also can help you maintain a healthy weight. They can even reduce your risk of heart disease. Mix things up, quite literally, by adding some berries and seeds. Other great options are sliced carrot sticks or even a mini tin of baked beans. Yes, you can eat baked beans cold and straight from the can. They are delicious, good for you, and a good source of iron.
If you have slightly more time, you can prepare some delicious and healthy snacks in advance, such as peanut butter protein balls. They are scrumptious and satisfying. You can also add other ingredients you have in the pantry, such as cranberries, pitted dates, dark chocolate, or whole-grain dry cereal! Homemade popcorn, popped in just a little olive oil using a pot on the stove, also makes a simple and affordable snack. Store the popcorn in small airtight containers for a great snack or lunchbox item.
playing it cool
If you have access to a fridge during your workday, you can further expand your daily snack repertoire. Try a half-cup of high-protein Greek yogurt with a drizzle of almond spread, topped with blueberries. For a snack that delivers a nutritious punch, try hummus with veggie sticks—carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, or celery—or whole-grain crackers. It’s a delicious and easy way to get more plant protein, fiber, and veggies into your diet.
listen to your body
Have you ever found yourself reaching for a snack in the afternoon because you’re bored or tired? It’s also common to mistake dehydration for the feeling of hunger, as sometimes the body may signal thirst as hunger. While snacking on nutritious foods can be part of a healthy diet, eating when you’re not hungry can cause you to consume more calories than your body needs. So, before you grab a snack, ask yourself, Am I truly hungry, or am I just thirsty, bored, tired, or upset? If you’re not hungry, think about ways that you can alter your feelings without food, like chatting with a friend or going for a quick walk.
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. For more information and heart-healthy recipes, visit sanitarium.com.au.