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Don’t snack less, just snack smarter

There’s nothing quite like the holiday season and all its glorious excesses of cookies, gingerbread, peppermints, pies and other goodies to make you want to practice full diet restraint come January 1. Cutting calories may seem like an obvious place to start but Angela Ginn-Meadow, a registered dietician (RD) and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, urges women to think beyond calories this year, specifically, when it comes to snacking.

Hands holding almonds

Snacking wisely is important for your health and waistline asked Ginn-Meadow to analyze some of the most popular snacks to compare which ones come out on top in terms of both nutrition and low calories. “The one thing that is a big disadvantage is that you can sometimes miss out on nutrients that are so important by choosing empty nutrient snacks,” Ginn-Meadow says. Let the New Year snackdown begin!

Animal Crackers vS. Graham Crackers

They’re both crackers, so what’s the difference, right? Actually, according to Ginn-Meadow, while animal crackers tend to be very low in fat, they don’t have much fiber, an important hunger-curbing nutrient. “Our meals should last us about five hours apart,” the nutritionist says. “If you’re finding that you’re getting hungry in between that, you really need to think, ‘Did I eat enough fiber to get me from one meal to the next?'” Graham crackers tend to have about one or two more grams of fiber a serving than animal crackers and, Ginn-Meadow, says, “can be more satisfying.”

Learn how fiber can help you lose weight

Rice Cake vS. English Muffin with Peanut Butter

While rice cakes have long been dieters’ food du jour, these cardboard-like wafers have a minuscule amount of fiber, Ginn-Meadow says. She offers a tastier alternative: “Having a half of whole-wheat English muffin and topping it with peanut butter is 100 calories but it will keep you fuller longer and is packed with nutrients.”

More healthy snacks for women on the go

Corn Puffs Cereal vs. Nuts

Ginn-Meadow points out that a lot of women like to munch on cereals such as Corn Puffs or other low-fiber cereals to curb their appetites while running errands. For a more fiber-rich and just as travel-friendly option, measure out a one-ounce portion of heart-healthy nuts such as almonds or pistachios into a resealable bag. Throw the bag into your purse and you’ll have something healthy to chew on throughout the day.

The best nuts for your health

The Bottom Line: Snack mindfully

The most important snacking resolution you can make this year, Ginn-Meadow says, is to eat because you’re hungry and not because you’re stressed, bored, or at a social event where everyone around you is eating. “Ask yourself, ‘Is my stomach really growling or is it all in my mind?’ Because if it’s all in your mind you really don’t need to have a snack,” she says. “You can just pop in a stick of sugar-free gum and make it to the next meal.”

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