By Courtney Eby, RDN, LD
There is nothing wrong with a bite between meals. It is one way to boost your energy and take the edge off to avoid overeating at your next meal. The key is to make snacking a conscious activity. If you absentmindedly snack while watching TV, reading, or working, it can lead to overeating and uninvited pounds.
It's important to pay attention to your body. Before you reflexively reach for that snack, ask yourself: Are you really hungry? Are you really thirsty? If it's been two or three hours since you ate, likely your body needs fuel.
Snacking is intended to bridge the gap between meals, not necessarily fill you up. Snacks help keep you from getting too hungry before your next meal.
Whenever possible, it is important to plan your snacks. Most of us have made snack choices that we otherwise would not have, if we weren't so hungry. Make sure to pack some healthy snacks when you know you have a busy day ahead of you.
The trick to having a satisfying snack is finding snacks that are similar to your favorite foods. For instance, if you usually reach for potato chips, you might enjoy the crunch or the salt. Try substituting five whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese. If it is something sweet that you crave, try a handful of almonds mixed with a few chocolate chips. Snacks that contain protein and/or fiber will keep you feeling satisfied longer.
Here are some other snack ideas to try:
- One hard-boiled egg and five whole grain crackers
- Whole wheat pita bread with 2 tablespoons hummus.
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese with fruit.
- 1-2 tablespoons nut butter with an apple or celery sticks.