I have a wonderful friend who is a Registered Dietitian. I asked her to help me with this post because as I’ve been doing research on healthy snacking and I wasn’t finding many “healthy snacks” appealing. Thankfully Jessica was more than happy to help me out. This is what Jessica says about snacking:
Snacking can be your best friend or your worst enemy…it all depends on how you approach it. So let’s go over a few guiding principles and then finish off with a few ideas to get the creative snack wheels turning.
Try to make your snacks fit into one or more of the following categories:
1. Lean proteins
2. Low-fat dairy
4. Whole grains
The next challenge is to find something that tastes good (according to YOUR preferences) and makes you feel good. Snacks (and food in general) is VERY individual, so the key is experimenting to find out what works for you.
The next part of the process is changing your thinking…we often think that our snacks should be “snack food”. WRONG! I like to think of snacks as mini meals. One of the keys to making you feel good (at least that works for me and many others who I’ve talked to) is to pair a carbohydrate with a protein.
With that said…here are a few ideas that work well for me (and some I’ve talked to in my experience):
Yogurt and fruit
Smoothies (basically blended yogurt and fruit)
Cheese (low-fat version, like a string cheese) and whole grain crackers
Nuts and dried fruit (be careful to pre-portion this one…it’s easy to go overboard with these, since they are calorie dense)
Fruit and low-fat cheese
Carrots and ranch (if you’re worried about calories, you could use a low-fat ranch) [and Meagan…the carrots are just for you 😉
Cottage cheese and fruit
Apples and PB
Apples and string cheese
Keep in mind that a small serving of leftovers or a small sandwich is also a great snack!
I then asked her if adding low fat milk to my whole grain crackers and fruit would make the combination even better. And, because all my toddler wants to eat is cereal bars, are they a healthy snack option? I also asked for a little clarification on what lean proteins, low fat dairy, etc are because I am really a novice at healthy snacking and need it broken down to the most elementary levels!
In response to your question about pairing with a low-fat glass of milk…yes, that would be a great pairing. As far as a good grab and go snack food, a low-fat cereal bar is good. As far as bars go, I like to choose the ones with protein in them (more than 5 grams if possible) and/or fiber (again, 5 grams is a good target).
Lean proteins: eggs (hard boiled are great snacks), nuts (in small portions), seeds (like sunflower seeds)
Low-fat dairy: yogurt, cheese (string or cottage), milk
Fruits/Vegetables: the best F/V’s are the ones you enjoy…that being said, some have more calories/carbohydrates per serving than others, but there are none that I would eliminate all together from the diet; beware of dried fruits as they are very compact and contain a lot of calories/carbohydrates in a small amount
Whole grains: crackers, bread, pop-corn (low-fat is a better choice)
Yay finally some good/yummy answers on healthy snacking! Thanks Jessica for sharing your expertise and if you have any comments or questions we’d love to hear from you! Happy (healthy) snacking!