Loving to snack -- but knowing the snacks I was eating were not the best for my body or my skinny jeans -- led to beating myself up over indulging in snacks. Oddly, this mental beating up then led to cyclical behavior where I guiltily ended up snacking more. A psychologist would probably have a heyday with that statement, but I’m sure you all can relate!
My new attitude about snacking is a bit healthier (pardon the pun….) because rather than seeing snacking as something done stealthily, mindlessly or when I am so hungry I want to gnaw an arm off, I now plan for snacks and make sure I include things that I like but that are good for me.
Snacking can actually be a good thing for you. Several schools of thought tell us that many small meals during the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels, keep your metabolism on the move and incorporate more things in your diet. But as with any moderation, food quantities that are too large or food that is not appropriate can shoot the heck out of the good that snacking can be.
As I said, planning snacks is the key to healthier snacking. Many of us think to put crackers in our purse, the car or the diaper bag for kids, but do we plan the same for ourselves? Do you keep a small cooler in your car or office so you can have a healthy (and properly transported) snack each day? Do you stock the cupboard and refrigerator with healthy snacks? Many of us do not, so here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how you can plan for snacks.
Get rid of temptation! In my case, that means potato chips, pretzels, crackers and nacho chips have had to find a new home. If there are in my house, I will eat them so they are not there anymore.
Keep snacks that can be stored at room temperature (or higher, now that spring is here) like popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds and peanut butter. Just be careful to read labels on each – microwave popcorn is easy and healthy as long as you buy low fat and lower sodium kinds. Likewise sunflower seeds are a wonderful snack as long as they are low or no sodium. Peanut butter is great eaten without any bread or crackers as it will fill you up for hours; 2 teaspoons has 190 calories and a load of protein.
Another great snack, believe it or not: beef jerky! Who would have thought? On average one ounce of beef jerky has 70-80 calories, 12 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat. You have to be very careful about the sodium content, so buying beef jerky at the local gas station may not be the best but a health food store or high-end market should carry beef jerky that is lower in sodium.
An 8 ounce cup of low-fat yogurt has about 150 calories, 2 -3 grams of fat and is a much better snack than ice cream. The great flavors available today make it easy to not get bored with it, too!
Here’s a list of 50-calorie healthy snacks:
a.8 ounces vegetable juice
b.1 small pear
c.4 walnut halves
d.1 cup fresh strawberries (no sugar added!)
e.¼ medium cantaloupe
f.½ ounce cheese
And here are some healthy 100 calorie snacks:
a.1 small banana
b.½ cup applesauce
c.2/3 c low fat cottage cheese
d.9 ounces grapefruit juice
e.1 -2/3 cups grapes
f.4 inch wedge of honeydew melon
g.12 large olives
h.3 Tablespoons raisins
i.1-1/2 ounces smoked salmon
j.6 ounces pears canned in light syrup
k.1 cup peaches canned in light syrup
l.1 large ear of corn (but no butter!)
m.¼ cup dried figs
n.1 large apple
I hope this helps you rethink your attitude about snacking so that it is a healthy one. Remember to plan ahead and have good snacks on hand, preferably ones with good shelf life that are easily taken places with you, and remember to maintain good portion control.
Kathy Patrick is a personal and entertainment chef in Rome. She writes this weekly column for Health Quest.