What comes to mind when you hear the word, “snack”? If I were to ask 10 people, I would likely get 10 different answers. To be sure that you are making choices that will support your health goals, versus stall them, keep these 5 tips in mind for smart snacking:

1. Recognize why you’re snacking. Are you hungry? Are you tired? Stressed? There are lots of reasons why we might reach for a nosh, but not all of them are good reasons. Sometimes, snacks are necessary & recommended for meeting protein and energy needs after surgery. But if this isn’t the case for you, make sure to ask yourself why you’re feeling tempted to dip into your coworker’s snack drawer. If you can’t say that you’re actually hungry, try drinking a glass of water and give yourself 10 minutes to decide if you really need that snack.

2. Keep the portion in check. It is a snack, after all, not an extra meal. Most of us should try and stay within 100 calories for our snacks, which is far fewer than the average person might consume. To keep the portion size from getting away from you, make sure to measure it out and put any leftovers away.

3. Make it count. Now that we’ve covered if you should be snacking, let’s discuss some appropriate snack options. Snacks that are good protein sources are your best choices, to help with meeting your body’s needs, and keeping you feeling full between meals. Some examples would be a low-fat string cheese, cup of fat-free yogurt, or a small palm-full of nuts. Snacks can also be a great opportunity to increase your veggie intake. Try dipping some cucumber slices in hummus, or topping celery sticks with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

4. Grazing is usually a bad idea. The problem with picking throughout the day is that what we eat can very quickly get away from us. It’s too easy to forget those few spoonfuls of ice cream you had while dishing out your child’s dessert, or the handful of chips you nibbled on during that meeting. While we aren’t consciously acknowledging these as “snacks”, the calories are really adding up.

5. Always check labels. Just because the yogurt you have at home is a good choice, doesn’t mean the one they sell at the coffee shop is. Make sure to review labels for things like added sugars and fats, before you decide if it’s a healthy choice.

For more ideas on how you can use snacks wisely, speak with a Nutrition Consultant today!