Published December 28, 2011
What do you reach for when you want a snack? Do the cookies call or do you have a salty rather than sweet tooth? Too often, many of us go for what is quickest, most convenient, and least expensive. We go to the vending machine for a candy bar, to the drive-thru for burgers and fries. We pick up a donut and sugary coffee for our morning commute and a soda and some chips for our afternoon commute. Eating right can be difficult when you are on the run, but with a little planning, you can conquer snack cravings. All you need are the right weapons: healthy snacks.
What is a healthy snack? For some people, it means a low-fat snack. For others, it means a low-carb snack or a low-calorie snack. For some, it means whole dairy, while others go for fruits and vegetables. The following are some healthy choices to consider next time hunger strikes:
- Tomato slices with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of feta cheese, if you have it. By itself, the tomato is rich in nutrients. Olive oil, while high in fat, has heart-healthy fats, while feta adds calcium and a boost of flavor.
- Bananas. These are an excellent source of potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramps, among other benefits. Recently, slightly green bananas have been getting attention because they have “starch resistant carbs.” Keep a fruit basket at your office or on hand in your car for when you need something to munch on.
- Air popped popcorn. Pop yourself 3 cups of this low-cal snack. While popcorn is higher in carbohydrates, it is low in fat and provides a good dose of fiber. Season it with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and other spices that don’t add to the calorie count. You can find a variety of delicious popcorn recipes and topping ideas online. Or you could just eat it plain.
- Leftover chicken or turkey. If you had meat for dinner last night, this makes an excellent snack. Meat is more calorie dense, but it provides filling protein. Have a deck-of-cards size serving. Turkey Jerky is another good meat choice for those who are craving something savory.
- Dairy. Many healthy eaters opt for low-fat yogurt, but many nutrition experts are starting to recommend eating whole fat dairy, such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. Low fat versions have the healthy fats stripped out and replaced with artificial fats that add no health value. Instead of a low fat slice of cheese, enjoy a whole fat piece of cheese. There are more calories, but there are more benefits, and you’ll likely stay full longer.
- Cantaloupe. This melon is loaded with nutrients, including beta carotene, while being light on calories. It is a great sweet satisfying snack. Switch out your ice cream for half a cantaloupe or have it for breakfast.
- Fruit with yogurt dip. Use 2 tablespoons of plain whole yogurt and 1 teaspoon of honey. This makes a great sweet dip that is also satisfying. Dip your way through a cup of raspberries or blueberries.
- A handful of dark gourmet chocolate Hershey’s Kisses. A small amount of any dark chocolate will provide antioxidants and a sweet fix. It is not as sweet as milk chocolate, so you may have to acquire a taste for it.
- Raw vegetables. These are low in calories yet very high in nutritional value.
These are great snacks if you’ve gone to the grocery store, and if you’ve remembered to pack them for work or your commute. What if you’re hungry and need a snack and your tomato slices with olive oil and feta are at home? Can you get a healthy, quick snack while you’re on the go?
Sure. When you have to stop at a convenience store for a quick snack, opt for things like:
- String cheese.
- V8 Juice or VFusion.
- A bag of Wheat Thins.
- A 100 calorie pack of chips, cookies, or pretzels. Your serving size is already limited; go ahead.
- Banana. Most convenience stores make at least an attempt at having fruit. If you can get it, get it.
- Coffee with a bit of milk or cream. Skip the sugar, and you should make it to your next meal intact.
- A small bag of trail mix or peanuts. Watch the serving sizes; these treats are healthy, but they are also calorie dense. If you can’t do portion control on the go, opt for a smaller pack or a single string cheese.
Healthy snacking isn’t hard, and it can help keep you energized while you maintain your weight (or lose it). Even when you’re on the go, you can still eat right and make good decisions.