Many people confuse snacks with treats but they are very different!
- Snacks should be eaten regularly to help you get in your daily nutrition
- Treats are part of a healthy, well balanced diet but should be consumed less frequently than snacks- eaten in moderation
Ideally you should start each day with breakfast, then have a snack, eat lunch, have a snack, eat dinner, and have a snack.
Benefits of snacking
There are many nutrition and health related benefits associated with snacking. Snacking benefits adults as well as children. Some great benefits of snacking include:
- Eat more to weight less:Eating small, frequent meals will help you eat less throughout the day which helps promote a healthy weight
- Eat every 2-3 hours: Eating every few hours helps keep blood sugar stable which helps you avoid extreme hunger and helps you stay in control so you can make healthy choices and avoid sugar cravings from getting too hungry
- Increase energy: If you are eating every 2-3 hours you are also keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Stable blood sugar means your energy level will stay steady. If you don’t eat your energy level falls and you get tired, snacking helps keep you energized
- Increase nutrition: Snacking is a great opportunity to get more essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrition into your diet! Since you are eating more often you can include a greater variety of healthy foods into your diet
- Improved concentration: Snacking between meals improves concentration, focus, and performance at work and at school.
What is a healthy snack?
A healthy snack should ideally consist of a carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat. Don’t be afraid of eating fat! Fat is what helps us feel full and satisfied after eating so we are less likely to overeat. You do want to choose healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, fish, nuts, and low fat dairy products. Choose a snack that is about 100 to 200 calories (depending on your specific needs) and aim to eat it between bigger meals.
What are some examples of healthy snacks?
- Low fat cottage cheese (protein and fat source) with cubed melon (carbohydrate source)
- Peanut butter (protein and fat source) on whole wheat crackers (carbohydrate source) or a sliced apple (carbohydrate source)
- Low fat Greek yogurt (protein and fat source) with high fiber cereal (carbohydrate source) sprinkled in
- Mixed berries (carbohydrate source) with sliced almonds (protein and fat source)
The bottom line:
- Snacking improves overall nutrition status, energy levels and concentration, and helps you eat less!
- The ideal snack should be about 150 calories (depending on your individual needs) and composed of a carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat!