By Scott Schuster, Community Nutrition Educator
Snacking can be extremely troublesome for many people. Lifestyles have become increasingly fast-paced and it is hard to find the time in our busy schedules to choose healthier options when it comes to snacks. We tend to choose the items that are most convenient and quick, but there are downfalls to choosing these options. Many of these items can be laced with high amounts of sodium, sugar and fat, which if not controlled, can lead to many health issues. Here are just a few tips to help increase the nutrient density of your snack food.
Plan ahead. Packing a snack ahead of time is a great way to overcome sudden urges of hunger. If possible, prepare your snacks the night before or on an off day from work. A good example of a healthier option would be 1 cup of your favorite raw vegetables; if you don’t like the taste of raw veggies, try dipping them in peanut butter or hummus for an added flavor and protein boost. If you already have your snack prepared, there should not be a need to go into a store and be tempted by junk food.
Moderation. Pre-packaged serving sizes are the way to go when snacking. It is the best way to keep your calories down and prevent you from over-eating. Try putting your snacks or fresh vegetables into a one-cup container and have the dip in a container that can hold up to two tablespoons. Not only does this method help prevent you from over-eating but it can help you track the amount of calories you are consuming throughout the day.
Quick Fix. Having fresh fruit such as, apples, oranges, pears and plums are great quick fix for those folks on the run. These fruits are easy to carry, do not require refrigeration and have high amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber. If those hand-held sweet treats are not your favorite and melons are more your style, then review the “plan ahead” tip and cut these bigger fruits up the night before or on the weekend. If all else fails you can always try dried fruits.
No matter what type of food you enjoy or the lifestyle you live, keep in mind National Nutrition Month’s Motto “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.” Fruits and vegetables are a great choice, because they are high in vitamins and minerals, while naturally low in fat and cholesterol. They also are a great source of fiber that keeps you full without having to eat as much. Make sure you choose foods that you enjoy because you are more likely to eat foods that taste good to you. Lastly, make snacks part of your everyday routine. It may help prevent you from overeating and gets you through sudden urges of hunger.
For more information about snack ideas and portion sizes, visit www.choosemyplate.gov .