Depending on your snack habits, grazing between meals can help or hurt your healthy-eating efforts. If you have the sneaking suspicion that your snacks are throwing you off track, consider subscribing to these simple snack resolutions.
Look for whole foods first
Nature tends to get it right when it comes to healthy and flavorful foods, so the first snack resolution on your list this year should be to ditch the processed chips, crackers and candy bars that you’ve come to know and love. Turn instead to foods with a single ingredient (you know, like an apple), or with a short list of completely recognizable ingredients (like popcorn tossed with olive oil). In case it’s been so long since you ate a whole-food snack that you can’t recall what your options are, here’s a quick overview:
- Fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, etc.)
- Vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, etc.)
- Protein (boiled eggs, beans, nuts, tuna, etc.)
- 100% whole grains (corn or popcorn, oatmeal, quinoa, etc.)
- Snack bars and chips made from unprocessed whole foods with a short and recognizable ingredient list (Earnest Eats bars, Rise Bars, Food Should Taste Good chips, etc.) – these are usually found in the health food section of your grocery store or at specialty markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods
Watch the fat
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating snacks that contain fat, but you want to keep an eye on the type and quantity of fat you’re consuming. Commit to completely avoiding snacks that contain trans fats – these fats raise your “bad” cholesterol while lowering your “good” cholesterol, creating the perfect storm of unhealthy total cholesterol. You also want to avoid saturated fats typically derived from animal sources like red meat and full-fat dairy products. Stick to snacks with the healthy fats found in nuts, olives, avocados and other plants.
Beware the hype
You may think that eating 100-calorie snack packs is a healthy snacking solution, but in most cases it’s a poor way to combat mid-afternoon hunger. Yes, snack packs provide an easy way to control calories, but there are two things wrong with them: 1) They’re still empty calories – even at 100 calories, there’s nothing healthy about eating Doritos, Oreos or Cheez-Its, and 2) They’re simple carbs that are digested quickly – which can ultimately lead to more hunger. Commit to avoiding 100-calorie snack packs, opting instead for 100 to 250 calories of nutrient-dense whole foods.
Keep snacks on hand
Snacking can become dangerous if you don’t have a snacking plan. By keeping healthy snack options in your purse, desk drawer, car and fridge, you won’t be tempted by the vending machine when your stomach starts to growl.