A snack by definition is a small amount of food eaten between meals. When most people talk about snack foods, they are often referring to packaged foods such as chips, cookies, crackers, or popcorn that you would find in the “snack foods” aisle at most grocery stores. Planned snacks can actually be a great opportunity to fill in the gaps of your diet with wholesome foods.
Aiming for snacks between small meals has manybenefits:
- Decreased cravings – when going more than 5 hours without food, you’ll find that EVERYTHING starts sounding good, making it more difficult to resist the drive-thru on the way home or the cookies in the breakroom
- Fueled metabolism – many people find that skipping too many meals and snacks leads to weight gain
- Improved energy – going too long without food can make us feel tired; small amounts of food can be a great pick-me-up
- Blood sugar control – snacks between meals can help prevent your blood sugar from getting too low and help to better manage diabetes
What are some ideas for healthy and TASTY snacks?
Aim to build in a fruit or vegetable to at least one of your snacks daily. Pair carbohydrate-rich foods (such as crackers, bread, or fruits) with a protein-rich food to stay satisfied longer. Some examples include:
Hardboiled egg + orange
Apple + slice of cheese
Banana + Peanut butter
Edamame or soybeans, shelled
Jerky (beef, salmon, turkey)
(Photo credit: Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock)
Greek yogurt + berries
Small portion of leftover lunch (ex: 1 cup soup)
Trail mix or nuts + piece of fruit
Whole grain toast + nut butter
Protein drink or fruit smoothie w/protein powder added
Veggies + hummus or guacamole
Snap pea crisps or dehydrated beet chips
(Photo credit: Lauren Zembron)
Crackers + canned chicken/tuna
Avocado w/mashed boiled egg
Celery + peanut butter + raisins
Roasted chickpeas (homemade or store bought)
Cottage cheese + tomato or peach slices
Fruit and Nut bars
Turkey slices + cheese rolled in lettuce
Smoked salmon + cream cheese rolled in nori (seaweed)
*The amount of food your body needs at snack time will depend on your overall calorie needs
The key to smart snacking is to plan ahead and know what snacks you are going to have for the day. If you’re often on the go, try packing a small cooler bag. This idea will allow for a greater variety of options. Keep some shelf stable snacks in your car, desk drawer, and purse so you always have something healthy on hand.
Vanessa Imus, MS, RD, CD, is a Registered Dietitian providing nutrition education and counseling to patients at the University of Washington Weight Loss Management Center. She enjoys being active through running, hiking, exercise classes or dance games, and chasing her toddler. Her favorite past time is dreaming about and planning vacations.