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Healthy Snacking

Snacking is not an evil word. We need energy boosts throughout the day to maintain stamina for the tasks at hand. Snacks become bad for us only when they become an excuse for unhealthy eating.

If healthy eating is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, then healthy snacking should be more of the same. A good snack should have some elements of the above, and little if any unhealthy fats and sugars. It isn’t complicated to understand: what is good for our bodies, is food that is closest to its natural state.

The problem then is that the food that is readily available doesn’t meet these requirements. Try looking for a piece of fruit in a vending machine, or a drive thru. Search a convenience store for a whole grain granola bar that doesn’t have tons of processed sugars and trans fats added. The places that provide us with on-the-go snacking are really sources for unhealthy fats and sugars.

So the answer is to plan for snacks in advance. You’re going to get hungry between meals, so what are you going to eat? If you’re at work, pack healthy granola bars, easy-peel fresh fruits, dried fruits, or even a small side salad. If you want something sweeter, don’t let the vending machine decide what you’re going to indulge in, pack a good quality chocolate bar or candy. The key is to make sure that the majority of your snacks are healthy, so if you have a piece of chocolate, balance it out later with a lower calorie item.

Healthy, Portable Snacks:

Fruit

Salads (pack dressings separately)

Edamame (whole soybeans)

Low-Fat Popcorn

Granola Bars (look for those with less fat and sugar)

Homemade granola

Whole grain cereal

Whole grain sandwich

Low-salt or unsalted nuts

Dried fruits

Yogurt (look for fruit-sweetened brands and avoid artificial sweeteners)

Reduced fat cheese & crackers

Veggie and low-fat dip (look in the produce department of your local grocer for prepackaged items)

Small chocolate bars or candy packages

Fruit leathers

In addition, watch what you drink. Sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened coffees, are full of calories and chemicals. Diet versions should be used sparingly to limit exposure to artificial sweeteners. Get used to water, and plenty of it. Use a moderate amount of fruit juice and take a stroll down the packaged tea isle of your grocery store. Load up on a few different varieties to squelch those cravings for a sweet drink. Try natural sweeteners that won’t raise blood sugar, such as agave and stevia.

Finally, remember that snack time is usually not the time for a treat. If you want a piece of cheesecake, don’t indulge in a cafeteria somewhere while you’re in a hurry. Get a really good slice after dinner that night, and enjoy it! Treats are what we eat as an indulgence, not to stop hunger pains between rushed moments. Feed your body well so that it can perform well.