Snack Better with Healthy Snacks
Snacks are frowned upon by health authorities. They cite the abundance of sugar, fat, and salt in most snack food-like materials. But can you imagine not snacking? I can't. Rather than feeling guilty about snacking, I suggest a better approach: Snack better with healthy snacks.
Do tasty, portable, and healthy snacks exist? Of course! Several types of fresh fruits fill the bill. Apples, grapes, kiwis, and oranges are almost always available in supermarkets. And they travel well. Vegetables by themselves may strike you as bland. If so, spice them up with hummus. Many varieties are now available. Just about every day, I enjoy carrot slices dipped in hummus. How about celery or broccoli dipped in hummus? Low-salt nuts and nut butters are rich in fat and protein, which help satisfy hunger.
If you read labels, you can find granola (often in the bulk foods section of your supermarket) that has minimal or no added sugar. You can eat granola right out of the bag or enjoy it with milk or milk substitute in a bowl. Consider certain types of trail mix. I like a version with almonds, cashews, pieces of dark chocolate, minimal salt, and moderate sugar (7 grams).
It doesn’t take long to find plenty of examples of unhealthy snacks. By “unhealthy,” I mean those loaded with sugar, fat, and salt. A long ingredient list is a useful proxy for unhealthy snacks. Guess how many ingredients I found on a package of a leading brand of chips? 46, by my count. I’m not making this up. Other unhealthy snacks include soft drinks and sports drinks (loads of sugar), donuts (there’s not much worthwhile in a donut), and snack cakes (see donuts), among many others.
Knowing which snacks are healthy is the first step in healthy snacking. The second and equally important step is to plan ahead. Anticipate times when you’ll want to snack. Avoid impulse buying when you’re hungry, tired, or stressed. Let’s say you know you’ll want a morning and afternoon snack at work tomorrow. Open up the bag of almonds you bought yesterday, pour a half cup in a zip-type plastic bag, and put it with your work stuff. Or pull out the package of hummus you bought and spoon some into a small container. Pull out a carrot, rinse it off, cut off the big end, slice it into eatable pieces, and put the pieces in a zip-type plastic bag. How about keeping a jar of peanut butter or almond butter and a knife in your desk drawer at work?
If you forget to pack a healthy snack and find yourself starving, what do you do? If there’s a grocery store nearby try that first. You’ll be able to find at least one of the suggested healthy snack items mentioned above. If there’s no grocery store, the bigger convenience stores tend to have better selections than the smaller ones. Your best bet might be a bag of nuts—peanuts, cashews, or almonds. Or perhaps a package of trail mix. If you’re lucky, you might score a hard-boiled egg.
With a little thought and planning, you can satisfy your hunger and snack better with healthy snacks.