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When we talk about “snacking” visions of overeating on cookies, chips, pretzels, and ice cream may come to mind. It’s easy to munch on too much of these unhealthy options, but when snacking is done right, it plays an important role in a healthy diet. Snacking throughout the day can help curb your appetite, keep you feeling full longer, and prevent overeating. It can also stabilize blood sugar levels and decrease energy fluctuations throughout the day. Here is some food for thought about smart snacking.

Balance your snacks.

Balance ensures we are getting appropriate variety with our snacks and not overloading on any food groups. Look for snacks that contain lean protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. These foods are more nutrient dense and take longer to digest, leaving you feeling full longer. For some smart snacking ideas check out our 8 snacks under 150 calories.

Other smart snacking choices include:

  • 1 (5.3oz container) Greek yogurt + 1 medium banana
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese + ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus + 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 serving of whole grain crackers + 1 lite string cheese
  • 3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter + 1 medium apple

Be a “mindful” snacker.

  • Use common sense when deciding what to snack on and listen to your body when it is full. Use the Hunger Scale to avoid snacking just because something tastes good or you are bored.
  • Be aware of when you snack. Distracted eating at events such as going to a party, tailgating or watching TV can easily lead to overeating.
  • If you are prone to unnecessary or unhealthy snacking, try to pause in the moment and ask, “Am I actually hungry or do I just want to eat?”  Wait fifteen minutes and then reevaluate. If after fifteen minutes you decide you are hungry, then go for it, but make a healthy choice.

Make smart snacking easy.

Try pre-packing your snacks and measuring out appropriate portions the night before or early in the week.  Also, get rid of the candy dish on your desk and keep healthy snacks within arms distance at work. Create an environment that allows you to be as successful as possible.

For this week and moving forward, challenge yourself to practice smart snacking. Use the tools listed above and be aware of what you are eating. You will be glad you did!