Don’t take this as permission to add just any snack to your diet. Being home more during this past year has given us access to snacks 24/7. Did you increase your snacking because it was there? Or perhaps the anxiety and uncertainty encouraged you to eat? Have you changed your snacking habits over the past few months?
Take time this month to evaluate your current snacking habits. On average, consumers eat two to three snacks per day. Younger consumers love snacks and report eating five+ snacks a day. Depending upon the actual snack choices being made, all of this may or may not be healthful.
Pay attention to when you currently snack the most. Do you always reach for something mid-afternoon? Do you crave something at night? Think about why you’re doing this. Are you hungry because you skipped lunch or your lunch wasn’t enough? Perhaps you’re bored with what you’re doing and just need a break. Write your motivation down -it’ll help you see patterns and remember them. Plus, knowing why you snack can help you plan and prepare for healthy choices.
Instead of heading to a vending machine or the break room at work, plan for those times when you’re seeking something to eat. Keep a healthy snack drawer in your desk. Or pack a little extra in your lunch bag for that break time.
Look at your overall diet. Is there a food group or basic nutrient you’re missing? Maybe you need more fruit, more dairy, or more calcium in your diet. Think about how you can make these foods from whichever missing group your “go to” snack.
If you snack because you’re “always hungry”, consider doing several “mini meals” throughout the day instead of large meals and snacks. This could help control your blood sugar levels and reduce overall calorie intake.
Check your grocery cart and pantry to evaluate the types of snacks you’re currently purchasing. Most items in the snack aisle are full of fat, added sugars, refined carbohydrates and sodium. Consider what other foods you could eat as a snack. Hard cooked eggs? Yogurt? Last night’s chicken? Whole grain crackers?
Do your snacks satisfy a craving? Are you looking for something sweet, chewy, salty or crunchy? What could you eat that meets those needs (and have in house) without adding too many empty calories?
Plan your snacks. Make your own 100 calorie snack packs. Have them ready to go when you want something quick to eat. Try 1 cup grapes, 2 cups of carrots, one banana, or an apple. Other options include one ounce of cheese. 15 almonds or 10 pecan halves.
Make your own. Can you make your own snack bars? Pop some corn for the whole family? Or find a commercial product that meets your health, budget and time needs?
Adding a snack can be optional, but when you do want a snack, make sure it fits into your healthy eating plan.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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