If you're trying to watch your weight, snacking can be the best thing for your diet. By filling up on healthy, low-calorie snacks between meals, you boost your metabolism and don't get so hungry that you overindulge at mealtimes. "The biggest cause of overeating is undereating," says Katherine Tallmadge, registered dietician and author of Diet Simple.
The most nutritious snacks are made from fresh, wholesome foods. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that keep your body working its best and keep hunger at bay. Instead of waiting until you are hungry, plan ahead by cutting up fresh fruits and veggie wedges to keep on hand in the refrigerator. Whip up some delicious and healthy dipping sauces such as homemade hummus, fresh salsa, guacamole or dill yogurt dip. Fresh fruit and veggie smoothies are another excellent option that will give you a powerful boost when you hit that mid-morning or -afternoon slump.
Don't wait until you're starving to find a snack. That's how you end up polishing off an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's in one sitting. Make a list of healthy snack ideas and keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with all your favorites. Cheese sticks, trail mix, dried fruit, hard-boiled eggs, mini-sandwiches, mini-muffins, power bars, rice cakes, pita chips, whole-grain crackers, yogurt, nut butters, and fresh fruit and veggies are healthy, portable choices for those hectic, on-the-go days.
Snacks don't have to look like snacks. A cup of homemade tomato soup, mini Caprese salad, small wedge of broccoli and red pepper frittata or barbecue chicken drumstick is just as good a snack as a package of trail mix or a power bar. We tend to think of snacks as prepackaged, single-serving foods, but this doesn't have to be the case. Any nutritious, low-calorie, high-energy food is a good candidate for snacking. Just make sure to check portion sizes, so your snack doesn't turn into a whole meal.
Whether you're a busy stay-at-home mom or you work outside the home, you have to plan ahead to eat healthy. Getting so absorbed into the lives of your children that you forget to think about yourself is easy. Don't feel like you have to munch on graham crackers and Goldfish just because that's what your kids are eating. When planning your weekly menus, include healthy snacks for both you and the children.
Here are a few ideas for getting out of your snack rut: