By now, you know that snacking doesn't have to be a bad thing for your waistline. But did you know that the right snacks can actually suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone? Low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods like strawberries (49 calories a cup), broccoli (20 calories a cup), and sweet potatoes (103 calories a cup and ready in a microwave minute) are your best defense. They make you feel satiated on a lot fewer calories than potato chips do.
Smart Snacking Tips
Avoid mindless noshing. Don't eat while you're watching television or talking on the phone. Those unconcious calories can really add up before you're even aware of what you're doing.
Plan ahead. Smart snacks don't just happen. Buy portable options like cheese sas or grapes.
Keep convenience in mind. Anything that takes preparation can sway you to the dark side for an alternative that is easier to eat, even though it's high in fat and calories. To combat that, have fresh fruit on hand and keep some of it cut up, so it's as easy to grab as a cookie.
Portion-control your snacks. Preportion your snacks so you're not tempted to snack indefinitely. If you're at home, plate your snacks; never eat out of a can, box or bag.
Pack smart on the road. If you're going to be traveling, be sure you bring a snack or two to tide you over in case there are unexpected delays.
Bedtime snacks. Keep your bedtime snack at 200 calories or less. Be sure to avoid caffeinated food and beverages such as chocolate or soda with caffeine.
Don't go to bed hungry. Going to bed hungry can prevent you from sleeping. Some studies suggest that people who are trying to lose weight wake up more often from hunger pangs. Eat your snack 90 minutes before bedtime. Any later and your body won't have enough time to break down the food and reap its benefits.
Whether it's a mid-morning, mid-afternoon or evening, be sure your snack provides protein and, ideally, fiber to keep you satisfied. Try also to keep calories at 150 or less. Here are a few suggestions.
- Raw vegetables (e.g., baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery cuts, broccoli florets, etc.) in a resealable plastic food storage bag to take with you anytime, anywhere.
- Black bean salsa on celery sticks.
- Roasted almonds, pistachios, any nut.
- Broccoli florets and reduced-fat ranch dressing.
- Cripsbread with low-fat cottage cheese.
- Fresh fruit, washed, cut and ready-to-eat with a slice of low-fat cheese.
- Hard boiled egg.
- Hummus and whole-wheat pita.
- Individual drink box of low-fat millk, soy milk or rice milk
- Individual low-fat yogurt.
- Snack-size low-fat popcorn.
- Preportioned trail mix.
- Spread graham crackers with a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese. For sweetness, add slices of banana and kiwifruit.
- Soy nuts.
- Whole grain cereal with non-fat milk.
- Whole grain crackers with peanut butter.
- Whole-grain chips with bean dip.
- Whole wheat fig bars.
Brand Name Snack Bytes
- For an energizing treat, pour some Post Cranberry Almond Crunch Cereal into a resealable bag to enjoy with some Breyers Yogurt. Then grab a spoon and go.
- Enjoy a snack break while you are in the car. A few nibbles from a Teddy Grahams Go Pack makes a fun snack to keep you going and they're a good source of calcium. The resealable lid makes this multiple-serving snack great for travel.
- Kraft Handi-Snacks Cheez 'n Breadsas make a great shelf-stable snack for people on the go. Store them in your desk or your purse for a quick bite when you are on the run.
- A single-serve package of Fig Newtons or Snackwell's Cookies and your favorite fruit go well with a mug of coffee any time of day.
- Planters Trail Mix Nuts is a low-sodium, cholesterol-free snack. Share with friends and enjoy with a piece of your favorite fruit.
- Top prepared Kraft Easy Mac Original Macaroni and Cheese Dinner with leftover cooked vegetables or chopped tomatoes. This will give you 1-1/2 grains and 1/2 meat from the Food Guide Pyramid!
- Spread 2-tablespoons peanut butter on five Ritz Crackers and top with 1/4-cup chopped apple. This snack equals 1 gran, 1/2 meat and 1/2 fruit on the Food Guide Pyramid.
- Top six Triscuit Crackers with 1-ounce sliced Cheddar cheese and jam or preserves of choice. Two grains and 1/2 milk on the Food Guide Pyramid.
- For some "grab-n-go" fuel, grab a Balance Bar and a Capri Sun Drink. 1-1/2 Grains and 1 Meat on the Food Guide Pyramid.
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