Quick Tips for Smart Snacking
By Sara Butler
Snacks aren’t all bad. Sure, that afternoon trip to the vending machine for a soda and a bag of chips may not be your shining nutritional moment, but snacks in and of themselves can be a good thing. Healthy snacking actually plays a vital role in helping people get the nutrition they need for the day -- if they snack right. Here are some tips for you and your family to help you snack smart and stay healthy.
Do You Need It?
The Academy of Nutrition recommended that children get three meals and two snacks per day. Older people should have three meals and one snack, two if they’re very active. Snacks between meals help to give you the energy you need to get through the day to keep you engaged and alert. So, feel free to incorporate healthy, balanced snacks into your meal plan.
A Healthy Snack Defined
So, what makes for a healthy snack? It’s all about balance. You need healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, protein, and carbohydrates to make a snack well-rounded. Examples of well-balanced snacks include:
- Hummus and carrot sticks
- Apples or a banana with peanut butter
- Whole grain pita bread with tomato sauce and cheese
- Fruit mixed with Greek yogurt
Prepackaged snacks such as chips and cookies aren’t recommended. While they may come in small, snack-sized portions, they’re full of empty calories, sugar, and salt that won’t fuel your body for the long haul.
One part of healthy snacking is what you eat, the other is how much. Snacks are meant to tide you over until your next meal, not fill you up. They’re really about taking the edge off your hunger and giving you a little energy boost, so the portions aren’t the same as a regular meal.
To keep the portions in check, don’t eat directly from a bag or container. Instead, look at the nutritional information for serving size and portion out just one serving.
What time you eat a snack is also important. The best time is about two to three hours after a meal ends and about one to two hours before the next one begins. It’s a delicate balance you’ll have to work to find, but ideally, you shouldn’t eat so close to another meal that you don’t want to eat the meal.
You can snack -- just make sure you're doing it the right way!
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hoboken, N.J.