While scrolling Instagram the other day, I saw an ad that read, “Can a cookie replace your dinner?” It was promoting a “healthy” cookie with fake fiber, sugar alcohols, and protein powder. Is this what we’ve come to? Hard pass.
I get it. Now that the pandemic isn’t as big a threat to our health, people have returned to “life as usual.” The popularity of taking time to cook meals at home has waned as people have resumed their busy schedules. Rather than full meals, many have turned to convenience, and grab-n-go items are on the rise.
One such trend is having snacks for dinner.
These snacks don’t need to be unhealthy or even heavily processed. When I think of snacking, I think of the small foods I graze on throughout the day: fruit, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Snacking instead of sitting for a meal is on the rise, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this approach…
- Snacks can help build a better nutrition outcome. One study found that fruit and vegetable consumption improves if snacks are eaten earlier in the day.
- Snacks can be convenient. Non-perishable items like half a peanut butter sandwich, a trail mix, or a protein bar are all great snacks.
- Snacks are a better alternative than completely skipping a meal.
- Kids can make up for missing nutrients in their diet (such as calcium, iron, and fiber) through snacking.
- If you reach for high-calorie or high-sugar snacks too often, you could face undesirable weight gain or elevated blood sugar.
- Similarly, ultra-processed, low-nutrient-quality snacks add fat, sugar, sodium, and calories, but not much nutrition. They may also alter taste buds and increase your preference for these foods.
- Snacks can be expensive. Protein bars can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $4.00 each. Consider cost if you adopt this approach.
- Sitting down for family meals reduces depression, substance use, and chances of risky behavior. Snacking for a meal could mean less time spent on family meals.
8 Nutritious Grab-N-Go Snack Ideas:
1. Trail mix of lightly salted nuts or seeds, Cheerios, raisins, and dried cherries.
2. Protein bar (look for ones with ten or more grams of protein, 3 grams or fewer of saturated fat, and 8 grams or fewer of added sugar)
3. Light string cheese and whole grain crackers
4. Greek yogurt and grapes
5. Apple, grapes, banana, or berries with cheese or nuts
6. A turkey and cheese roll-up in a whole wheat tortilla
7. Hummus and olives with whole-grain pita chips
8. Dates with peanut or almond butter
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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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