For those who have ever been on a diet, the idea of snacking may seem taboo, right up there with equally punishable behaviours like eating deep fried foods, white flour, and decadent desserts. But contrary to conventional thinking, research has shown that snacking is not only a healthy habit to adopt, but also a necessary one if weight loss or maintenance is your goal. This is because adding healthy snacks to your diet helps to keep you satisfied throughout the day, so you are less likely to overeat at the next meal. In fact, most nutrition professionals agree that one of the secrets to healthy eating is to eat at regular intervals, generally considered every 3-4 hours. This not only helps to manage your appetite by keeping your blood sugar stable, but also ensures you are energized and alert from sun-up to sun-down.
If you do the math, you’ll quickly realize that sticking to the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal combination alone, does not allow for eating every 3 to 4 hours. This is why snacking is key! In addition to 3 meals, it is usually recommended that we eat 2 snacks per day, one between breakfast and lunch and the other between lunch and dinner. But before you reach for that bag of greasy potato chips or oversized muffin, there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a healthy snack.
Women should choose snacks that contain between 150 and 200 calories, while men should stick to the 200 to 250 calorie range. Snacks should also contain whole grains whenever possible and be low in sugar, fat, and sodium. Try to include fruits and vegetables more often at snack time as the fibre content will keep you satisfied until your next meal. Speaking of satiety, snack combinations that include protein with fruit, dairy and fruit, or protein and vegetables will help reduce hunger. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will also keep you satisfied and as an added bonus, hydrated!
If you’ve perused the aisles of your local grocery store, you likely found that there are plenty of packaged snack options to choose from. Please be weary of processed snacks like low fat cookies and crackers, or granola bars as these often contain sugar, fat, and sodium that make them a lackluster snack choice at best. Many also have high glycemic index values that may leaveÂ you feeling peckish well before your next meal. I am aware that these are convenient options so when choosing these foods as snacks – especially granola bars – please look for products that are wholegrain, high in fibre (at least 2 grams per serving), and have 0 grams of trans fat. On the sugar front, keep in mind that bars with extras like chocolate, caramel, or those dipped in sweetened coatings are likely higher in calories, fat, and sodium.
I’m sure all this information has made you hungry, so it’s time for a snack. The following are sample snack ideas to help you make healthier choices. As always, please consult your nutrition professional for advice and guidance before making changes to your diet.
*Medium apple with 1 part-skim mozzarella cheese string
*3 cups plain air-popped popcorn
*Homemade trail mix: combine high fibre, wholegrain cereal with raisins and 10 almonds into a single serving container
*Low-fat yogurt (3/4 cup or 1 serving) with a medium orange
*2 tbsp hummus with Â½ cup of baby carrots
*1 energy bar (look for wholegrain varieties that are low in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium)
*Berry smoothie (made with 1 cup skim milk or fortified soy)
*10 unsalted almonds and 1 pear
*Medium apple with 1 tbsp natural peanut or almond butter
*Â¼ cup Fat-free cottage cheese with Â½ cup of strawberries
About Renee Hughes:
Renee Hughes holds a Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication from Ryerson University in Toronto. She also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Food and Nutrition from Ryerson University and a Bachelor of Arts in Crime and Deviance from the University of Toronto. As a passionate nutrition and food writer, Renee has written articles for dietitians, non-profit agencies, and has developed community based nutrition workshops in Toronto. To contact Renee, please send an email to:Â firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of My Yoga Online.
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