Being a mom is a full-time job. If it seems like you spend every spare moment getting the kids ready to go somewhere, or shuttling them around town, that’s because you do. So how are you supposed to take care of yourself? Start by giving your body the nutrition it needs. Here are some smart snacking tips for busy moms.
The first step to healthy snacking is to plan ahead. When you’re making your shopping list, don’t just think of mealtime. Add healthy snack items to your list, too. If you work outside the home, prep that day’s snack at the same time you’re packing the kids’ lunches. If you have your healthy snacks prepared and ready to go, you’re less likely to duck into the neighboring cubicle for a handful of M&Ms.
Many prepackaged snacks contain a boatload of sugar, so be sure to read the nutritional information on the label. Yogurt can be one of the worst offenders. Some “natural” yogurts contain more than 20 grams of sugar per serving. Go for plain, unsweetened yogurt and add honey or agave syrup for a naturally sweet taste.
Pump up the protein
Protein gives you the energy you need to power through your busy day. Our new go-to snack is the simple protein bar. Find one that has at least 10 grams of fat and less than five grams of sugar. Other great sources of protein are nut butters (so good when spread on apples), hard-boiled egg whites, hummus, and rolled-up turkey lunchmeat. For snacks that pack a one-two protein and calcium punch, grab one of the kids’ string cheese sticks, a low-fat yogurt or some cottage cheese.
Don’t be fooled
Fitness Magazine‘s article, “10 Diet Foods that Make You Fat,” is eye opening. While snacks such as granola, sushi and smoothies may seem like perfectly healthy choices, they’re often packed with calories, sugar and fat. Don’t be fooled by words such as “natural” and “organic.” Read nutrition labels closely, and whenever possible, prepare your own snacks so that you control the ingredients.
Fill up on fewer calories
Go for snacks with lower energy densities to get full on fewer calories. We’re talking about foods that contain fewer calories and more nutrition. Think of raisins and grapes: Raisins have a high energy density — 1 cup of raisins has more than 400 calories; grapes have a low energy density — 1 cup of grapes has about 100 calories. According to the Mayo Clinic, foods with low energy densities are high in water content (watermelon, for example), high in fiber (they take longer to digest), and low in fat (fat itself has high energy density).