With busy summer schedules of work and travel, it’s easy to slack off on mindful eating and even easier for unhealthy snacks to make it into your cute summer tote. Whether it’s a calorie-dense piece of banana bread from the coffee shop, or a skimpy 100-calorie pack of highly-processed cookies or crackers, neither of these snacks are doing their job. It can often be a bit tricky finding the right balance for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack – is this too little or too much? Whenever you like to munch, make it meaningful. So, next time you’re reaching for a snack, keep these tips in mind: 1) snack on nutrient-dense foods (rather than “empty calories”), 2) power-up with protein, and 3) aim to keep your snack between 200-300 calories… after all, it is just a snack.
A snack food (commonly called a snack) is seen in Western culture as a type of food not meant to be eaten as a main meal of the day – breakfast, lunch, or dinner – but rather to assuage a person’s hunger between these meals, providing a brief supply of energy for the body” (source).
Instead of choosing that piece of Starbucks’ sweet banana bread (at a whopping 490 cal, 19g of fat, and 75g of carbohydrates), or that packaged bag of 100-cal crackers (a.k.a. air and preservatives that will do nothing to your hunger), choose one of my favorite nutritious, and of course delicious, snacks:
- 6 oz. non-fat plain Greek yogurt + ½ c. fresh berries
*Greek yogurt has 2x the amount of protein as regular yogurt and fewer carbs…not to mention its thick and creamy consistency – yum!
- ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese + ½ c. fresh fruit or chopped veggies
*Don’t’ forget July is National Blueberry Month!
- carrot & cumber sticks + 2-3T hummus
- 1 apple + 2T natural peanut butter
- 1 piece of whole grain toast + 1T natural peanut butter
*Nuts are a great-sources of hearty-healthy fats
- 1 pear + 2oz. sharp white cheddar
- handful of raw almonds + a few dried apricots
- Green Monster Smoothies
*Almond milk makes these great for those who are vegan and lactose-intolerant
I promise you that taking the extra time to prepare your in-between meals, rather than impulsively picking them from a vending machine, will benefit your health in the long run. Don’t take the easy way out. Fresh food = fresh energy!
Hillary is an intern at College Lifestyles and student of Food & Nutrition Communication at California State University, Chico. Her favorite summer snackage: Greek yogurt and organic homegrown blueberries – tart, yet sweet.