Snacking seems to be a popular activity from your grade school days that slowly fell out of fashion as you got older. “It’s not good for my figure” or “I don’t have the time” are popular excuses you often make to avoid falling into the trap of easily accessible empty calories. Vending machines are the worst.
However, just because you should stay away from all the junk options out there doesn’t mean that all snacking is bad. In fact, snacking smart can actually have more health benefits than if you were to simply eat three larger meals a day. Here’s how:
Smart Snacking Keeps Your Metabolism Humming
A professor of nutrition at Georgia State University, Dan Bernardot, says “The primary fuel for the brain is blood sugar, so when it drops, the brain takes steps to sustain sugar delivery so it can maintain normal function.” By snacking throughout the day – every 2.5-3.5 hours, depending on your own personal needs – and limiting yourself to 200-calorie portions, you can keep the fire you stoked with breakfast burning throughout the day.
You’ll keep your energy up and manage to never arrive at the “I’m starving” point – which often results in overeating.
Choose Snacks That Fill You Up
The best way to prepare an easy, healthy snack is to find a balance of protein, carbs and fat. Don’t worry: This isn’t as difficult as it may sound. A great snack that covers all these bases – and will also feel like a mini-meal – is a serving of berries with some organic granola. Low-fat plain or Greek yogurt is also a great option – and you can dress it up with some fruit, honey or preserves – whatever option your tastebuds prefer.
Look for Options That Help You Get Your Vitamins
Author and TV host Ellie Krieger suggests you try to cover all of your vitamins in both your meals and snacks. This means you should include a fruit or vegetable in each choice to cover all those valuable nutrients your body needs to be in full working order.
Munch on an apple or orange to cover antioxidants, or try some carrots sticks and celery with hummus for a savory option. You can get a great deal of much-needed calcium, as well as protein and fiber, from low-fat yogurt or a handful of almonds.
Put Those Cravings to Rest
Snacking smart also keeps you from being tempted to satisfy your empty stomach on your commute home. With so many fast-food options out there, keeping your tummy satisfied will help you resist the temptation to pull through the McDonald’s drive-through.
If you’ve got a craving for something sweet, try some organic dark chocolate – antioxidants are here too – and couple it with a handful of strawberries. If it’s crunchy and salty you’re looking for, try some whole wheat rye cracker thins topped with sharp cheddar and a tomato slice. There are lots of healthy and quick options out there to keep your belly and your waistline satisfied.
Keep Your Mood Positive and Energetic
It’s important to recognize what foods not only make you feel satiated, but also keep you happy. If you detest celery, don’t force yourself to eat it just because it’s a healthy option. This kind of snacking won’t leave you full mentally, and you’ll most likely go searching for something that will kick that craving caused by your negative mood. A huge part of snacking smartly is making sure you are still eating the things you love, and it’s merely finding a balance between healthy portions, vitamins and yummy options.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Snacking Misses
Of course, there will be some planning on your part to make sure you have delicious and healthy options with you during your day. This kind of prep generally requires a small amount of time in the evening for one week. To make it more enjoyable, turn it into a Sunday funday meal planning extravaganza that allows you to try out new ideas and recipes. This way, it’ll be both an enjoyable activity and keep your palette guessing throughout the week.