8 Tips for Smart Snacking at Home
Are you mindlessly reaching for food throughout the day?
“Snacks are not something you need to avoid if you’re trying to eat healthy,” says Gina Tran MD, PIH Health Family Medicine Physician. “In fact, snacks such as nuts, fruits and veggies can hold you over between meals, keep you energized and alert, help keep your weight in check and prevent you from filling up on junk food.”
Take control of your snacking with these 8 tips to snack healthy at home:
- Listen to your body (and mind). Before you reach for a snack, decide whether you’re truly hungry or if you’re just bored, sad, stressed or eating out of habit. If you determine that you’re feeling anything but actual hunger, distract yourself by taking a short walk, reading a book or playing with the kids or pets until the craving passes.
- Plan ahead. Think about what you’ll snack on long before snack time arrives. Otherwise, you may wander into the kitchen and just grab whatever’s handy, even if it’s not the healthiest choice. For example, wash and chop veggies while you’re waiting for your toast to pop at breakfast and place them in the front of your fridge next to the hummus.
- Take a break. When it’s time for a snack, stop what you’re doing and really enjoy what you’re eating. If you snack mindlessly while working at your computer, watching TV or doing chores, you’ll likely overeat – and won’t even enjoy your snack.
- Coordinate what you eat. To ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients throughout the day, eat snacks that don’t resemble the day’s meals. For instance, if you have eggs for breakfast, it’s not the day to have a hard-boiled egg at snack time. If you’re splurging on pepperoni pizza for dinner, eat fresh veggies or fruit at snack time and skip the cheese.
- Keep snacks balanced. If you’re looking for snacks that do their job at keeping you satisfied until your next meal, combine fiber, healthy fat and protein. Some good choices include a parfait made with fruit, granola and yogurt; hummus and veggies with flatbread; whole-grain crackers and canned tuna; apple slices and peanut butter; an avocado half stuffed with cottage cheese and topped with hemp or chia seeds.
- Mix and match. Variety is important, especially for kids. Don’t eat the same snack every single day. Stock your pantry and fridge with a selection of healthy snack foods everyone at home enjoys so there’s always something ready to grab when it’s snack time.
- Be mindful of portions. It’s easy to over snack when eating things like chips or nuts straight from the bag or crackers out of the box. Read the label to determine the suggested serving size. Then put that amount in a bowl and put the package away before you start to eat.
- Create your own snack mixes. To save money, purchase healthy ingredients in bulk and portion them out into grab-and-go bags or containers at home. For example, mix nuts, dried fruit, mini pretzels and/or yogurt-covered raisins.