It’s generally agreed these days that eating 3 meals and 2-3 small in-between mini-meals is far better for weight management and health than eating 2-3 large meals and starving in between. It sounds great, but the difficulty for most of us is realizing that the mail meals need to be scaled down in size and calories, and the mini-meals need to be a lot more that binging of unhealthy snacks.
If you are among those who snack regularly, it is important to consider snacks in your overall nutrition plan. Choose those that will provide a balanced nutrition as well as energy.
Snacks can be the same as small meals, so a sandwich, a bowl of hearty vegetable soup, cheese and crackers, yogurt with fruit, or a low fat muffin all make the nutritional grade. If you are looking for a salty, crunchy taste, choose pretzels, bread sticks, low fat pita crisps or air popped popcorn. Combine them with a low-fat yogurt based dip or a bean dip to up the nutrition ante. Other healthy snacks can include a bowl of cereal with low fat milk and fresh fruit, or mini-pizzas made from English muffins or pitas topped with pita sauce and part-skim mozzarella cheese.
Snacks can provide several of the recommended daily servings of starchy foods or the 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables we should all be having. Half a bagel with an apple, or a pita pocket filled with chopped raw vegetables; make a filling, nutritious snack that can be worked into the day’s meal plan. Other quick low fat foods, such as bags of fresh raw vegetables and dips such as hummus or a mixture of low fat yogurt or sour cream blended with herbs are a good after school snack. For a satisfying beverage, make a latte – ½ regular or soy milk and ½ decaffeinated coffee, or a yogurt, fruit and juice smoothie.
We all know that a carrot is healthier than a frosted doughnut, but not all foods that sound nutritious are. Read labels carefully for hidden sugars or fats. Examples of some of these sneaky snacks are granola bars – they’re usually laden with sugar, fruit drinks, with less actual juice or pulp and more added sugars and preservatives, microwave popcorn and commercial fruit rolls.