Snacking 101

Snacking Strategies

Krista Dolbear BSc, RHN, PTS
Krista Dolbear BSc, RHN, PTS

Go in any snack aisle and you’ll find fatty, calorie-rich foods that taste great but do no good for your good health. Finding a healthy snack can be difficult.

It’s even harder to find a snack that not only curbs your hunger, but keeps your carb cravings in check and keeps you feeling full until your next meal.

When lunch is still two hours away, what can you eat that will fill you up without adding too many calories? Don’t let your good dieting intentions fall by the wayside every time you feel those hunger pangs.

Manage your hunger and prevent binging by keeping healthy snack options readily available.
The key to a healthy, filling snack is a combination of foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Wondering how to get that combo? You’ve come to the right place for answers!

Filling Up on Fiber
Add vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your diet by snacking on fruits and vegetables. Women under 50 should eat 25 grams of fiber a day and men under 50 should aim for 38 grams. Women over 50 should get 21 grams of fiber and men over 50 should get 30 grams. Fiber-filled snacks are a great way to get your recommended daily amount of fiber.

As an added benefit, the sweetness of fruit may help satisfy your sweet tooth. Keep in mind that dried fruit is higher in calories than fresh fruit. A cup of grapes contain 100 calories while a quarter cup of raisins contain the same amount of calories. Vegetables have even fewer calories than fruit, but are generally not as filling.

Unrefined whole grains are another great source of fiber. Whole grains are also high in complex carbohydrates, which specialize in giving you energy. Look for whole-grain options of crackers, bread, cereals, brown rice, and pastas. If you’re watching your carb count, be careful to limit your snack to one serving of whole grains so you don’t overdo it.

Protein Snack Options
While foods high in protein may contain more calories than fruits and vegetables, they’re still a vital part of a healthy, balanced diet. If you want to eat a snack that’ll satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling fuller for longer, nothing does it like protein. Great sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry. But be careful! Filling as protein is, do your best to go with low-fat and lean options or your snack will only add to your waistline.

Healthy Fats
By now you know there is such a thing as healthy fat. Which ones are they? Plant-based fats. Containing healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, nuts and nut butters are a great snacking option when eaten in moderation. All you need is just one ounce to curb those hunger pangs. Other sources of healthy fats include seeds, avocados, and coconuts.

A Combination
Now that you know the ingredients for a healthy, filling snack (fiber, protein, and healthy fat), it’s time to make some snack recipes. Get creative. Eat the foods you like, and be sure to include a variety of healthy foods for a balanced diet.

The following are a few examples of delicious, simple, filling snack combinations:

  • raw carrots with a hummus dip
  • apple slices (with the skins) dipped in natural peanut butter
  • banana slices in low-fat yogurt
  • berries with cottage cheese
  • raw veggie with a black bean dip
  • raw broccoli with cheese slices
  • a handful of pistachios with pear slices
  • almond butter spread on a rice cake
  • celery sticks with low-fat dressing
  • sunflower seeds with some grapes
  • a hard-boiled egg with orange slices
  • nitrate free deli meat with a slice of cheese
  • guacamole dip on whole grain crackers

Hungry yet? You know what to eat!

Keep in Mind…
Trying to lose weight? You can’t just track the calories you eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you don’t pay attention to how much you eat for snacks, you’re going to get nowhere fast! So keep track of your snacks and make adjustments to ensure you’re burning more calories than you’re eating