The skinny on snacking
To snack or not to snack. That’s the question we asked Allyson Mast, Clinical Dietitian at Goshen Physicians Center for Weight Reduction.
We wanted to know if eating in between meals can fit into a healthy weight management program. Here’s her take on how to make snacks count toward good health.
“Try to think of your snack as a mini meal,” she explains. “Ask yourself what nutrition you will get from the food.”
Satisfy your taste buds. Choose snacks that combine carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats and protein in one. You’ll curb your appetite and get a boost of energy.
Choose snacks you chew. Snacks in liquid form may leave you unsatisfied and wanting more.
Limit sugar. Sugary snacks or ones made with refined grains have little nutritional value and probably won’t keep you full until the next meal. Choices to avoid include cookies, candy, chips, pretzels and refined grain crackers.
Say yes to the combo. Try combining fruit with nut butter for a healthy snack choice. Or munch on low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers. Yogurt topped with nuts or veggies dipped in hummus also make good snack combinations.
Not too high, not too low. The “right” calories from snacks vary with individual needs, according to Allyson. She considers a good range between 150 and 250 calories. If snack calories are too low, you may feel like you need another snack before your next meal. Too high a count can lead to excess calorie intake or not being hungry at the next mealtime.
Pick the right snack time. Allyson’s suggestion – choose a healthy snack when you know you will go longer than four hours in between meals.
Find your favorites. Among Allyson’s top picks are cucumbers and carrots with hummus or clementines with string cheese. “When I want something hot, I often go for a cup of bean soup as a snack,” she explains.
Steer clear of the soda aisle. Unless you get flavored, unsweetened seltzer water, try to avoid this aisle in the grocery store, suggests Allyson. Also remember that frozen vegetables, whole grains and beans are great snack options.
“When it comes to snacks, one of the most important things is to choose foods with minimal ingredients and processing,” said Allyson. “And make your own food!”