Healthier Snacking

Snacks are the perfect way to give you an energy boost between meals, but many prepackaged snacks are highly processed and contain a lot of sugar, salt, fat, artificial colorings, and flavorings. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins are healthy foods that make great snacks.

Plate of dip with crackers, strawberries and celery.

Seven simple tips for healthy snacking:

1. Think of snacks as a mini-meal.Healthy snacks could include anything you would normally eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The main difference between a meal and a snack is that the portion sizes are smaller for snacks and all food groups may not be included.

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables make great snacks.Apples, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, and bananas are in nature’s perfect package—their own skin, rind, or peel. Other fruits like berries and cut fresh vegetables also make great snacks. Prepare them ahead of time and package them into easy to grab single servings.

3. Dip it right.Dips can add flavor, protein, and substance to snacks. Try dipping fresh vegetables or whole grain crackers in hummus, guacamole, salsa, or low-fat dressing. Fresh fruit and berries are delicious dipped in yogurt or nut butter. For most dips 2 tablespoons is one serving.

4. Choose whole grain snacks.Want some crackers or chips with a crunch? Choose whole grain crackers that say 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain on the label. Popcorn and whole grain cereals are also high in fiber and make great snacks. Use a measuring cup or snack bags to control portions.

5. Don’t forget protein-rich foods.Protein-rich foods like Greek yogurt, hummus, bean dip, unsalted nuts and seeds, nut butters, and hard boiled eggs all make great snack additions.

6. Pack snacks ahead and take them with you.Try cutting or preparing fruits and vegetables and packing them in snack bags or small containers. Try pre-packaging trail mix, whole grain crackers, popcorn, cereal, and other healthy snack items so they are quick to grab and easy to take with you.

7. Avoid snacking in front of the television. Snacking in front of the television can lead to overeating. If you do enjoy a snack while watching television, portion foods out ahead of time into a small bowl to avoid eating more than a serving.

With a little thought and planning, snacks can be nutritious and delicious to fill the void between meals.