Saturday, August 4, 2012

What's A Good Snack?

Hi, I have a question about snacking between meals. How do I know what a good snack is? Is it okay to have something like popcorn, or should I always have something healthy like an apple? Thanks! Kara J.

Hi Kara,
What you choose for a snack depends on your dietary goals: Are you on a daily calorie limitation to maintain or lose weight? Are you trying to gain weight? What else are you eating during the day?

A snack can add nutrition and balance to your daily dietary intake. It can also throw a healthy diet out of whack by adding too much fat, sugar and calories.

When I think of a healthy snack, I think of one that will provide some good source of nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are usually low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. So they are usually a good choice, but often not what we crave.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are cookies, chips and ice cream: Lots of calories but not a lot of nutrition.

Some guidelines: 
(1) Look for a snack under 200 calories, unless you are trying to gain weight. 
(2) Look for a concentrated source of at least one nutrient.
Examples would be a carton of low-fat yogurt (meets calorie guidelines and provides protein and calcium); a granola bar (B-vitamins, often some fiber, and under 200 calories); cheese or peanut butter and crackers; a bowl of oatmeal; 1/2 sandwich with egg, tuna or turkey; non-fat latte (more milk with calcium and protein).

If you're really craving something sweet or salty that's not a particularly nutritious food, stick to small portions. The 100-calorie snack bags are great for this purpose, as well as portioned ice-cream treats. 

For a lot more on healthy snacks check out my e-book "Choosing Smart Snacks" from the "Choose to Lose" e-book series here .

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