When most people think of the word “snack,” they are usually not thinking about healthy snack foods. Instead, they think about candy bars, salty potato chips, cinnamon buns, and other sweet or salty foods. Maintaining a diet incorporating healthy snack foods is just as crucial as eating healthy foods for your main meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That piece of candy may look “sweet” and innocent, but it is probably loaded with double, even triple the value of sugar, fat, carbohydrates, among other not-so-great things, that can foil any dieter’s good efforts.
What makes healthy snack foods healthy?
The rule to follow when buying healthy snack foods is to make sure your choices are high in protein and contain complex carbohydrates. Protein is critical because it is a primary component of every cell in the human body. The body uses protein to make and mend tissue as well as to reproduce bone, muscle, hair, nail, skin, and blood cells.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are the body’s main source of energy, and come in 2 forms – simple and complex. You may have learned that all simple carbohydrates are not good, but this is not entirely true. The “bad” simple carbohydrates are those found in so-called junk foods like candies, soft drinks, table sugars, milk and white chocolates, etc. The body absorbs these simple sugars quickly and uses them for a quick boost of energy, but this fast absorption can make the body “crash” after processing the sugars. Plus, the body can begin to crave excess sugar, all-the-while storing it in fat cells, bringing on weight gain. “Good” simple carbohydrates are found in fresh fruits and, while too much of anything is bad, opt for too much fruit instead of too much candy. This much is obvious. The reason for this is fresh fruit contains different kinds of sugars that help you avoid the aforementioned “crash”.
Healthy Snack Food Tip
Certainly, there is a right way and an incorrect way to snack. In addition to selecting snacks containing high protein and low carbohydrates, making sure to snack regularly in between meals is vital. It’s a great idea to get in tune with your internal hunger clock; don’t wait until your stomach starts talking to you. If you make your tummy mad, you will most likely over eat, far past the suggested serving size.
The best way to snack successfully is to change your thinking about it. You should first understand that snacking is not bad, if you do it right, i.e. – no junk foods. If you already feel this way, think of snacking as a way to float from meal to meal.
Practicing portion control will also make snacking more effective for you. Instead of grabbing an entire bag of nuts from the kitchen cabinet, try measuring out the appropriate serving size ahead of time. It’s just like packing a lunch for work.
Healthy Snack Foods You Can Start Eating Today
Now that we have defined what makes a snack healthy, here are helpful tips to follow while munching. The following is a list of healthy snack foods you can incorporate into your diet starting today! Most of these foods are probably sitting in your kitchen right now.
Healthy Thirst Quenchers
Low-sodium tomato juice
Mixed vegetable juice
Crunchy Healthy Snacks
Whole grain bread sticks
Unsalted rice cakes
Baked tortilla chips
Nuts – 1 ounce or less
Whole grain cereal
Hot Healthy Snacks
Clear, low-sodium soups like chicken noodle
Homemade soup, be sure to use a low sodium broth
Sweet Healthy Snacks
Unsweetened canned fruit – Not in syrup
Low-fat / fat-free fruit yogurt