Today's post is looking at ways and means of ensuring that when you reach for a snack - and, let's face it, it's basically inevitably at some point - it's the right kind of snack. So, without further ado...
One key to keeping a healthy diet is staying fed throughout the entire day, which will help you avoid overeating later on. This means that snacks are a crucial part of a healthy diet, but with our hectic schedules and unhealthy options on the market, staying on track can be difficult. Putting a little thought into what we’re buying and eating is a good start to keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle! Consider these tips and snacks next time you find yourself preparing for a long day away from home.
#1. Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store -
In most supermarkets, the perimeter of the store is where fresh foods are found. For example, the deli, produce, meat, dairy, and organic sections are typically found on this perimeter. You can find almost everything you need in these areas, while avoiding tempting snacks found in the inner aisles. If you absolutely need to wander into the central aisles, stick to the nut butter section and bulk foods for dried fruits and nuts. Perusing in the junk food snack aisles is where you’re most likely to fall victim to bringing unhealthy snacks home.
#2. Keep healthy options in your bag and office -
Having healthy snack options pre-planned and on-hand will make it much easier to stay on track as the day goes on. Tuck a protein bar, baggie of mixed nuts or piece of fruit in your bag to take for the day, and place it in eyesight if you sit at a desk. Also try filling a “candy” jar with mixed nuts to stop yourself from searching for any food available mid-afternoon. Keeping healthy foods readily available is a constant reminder to make smart choices, and leaves you less likely to avoiding eating only to binge later on in the day.
#3. Learn how to read nutrition labels -
To know exactly what you are putting in your body, get in the habit of flipping packaged foods over and reading the nutrition label (ingredients included!). To start, look at the fiber, protein, sugar and sodium contents. Aim to eat foods with more protein and fiber than sugar, as these will fuel your body, leaving you full longer. Consuming sugar gives you a quick release of energy that then fades and leaves you hungry all over again. Be sure to check the ingredient list for dyes, hidden sugars, preservatives, and chemicals that aren’t represented in the label, as these can be hidden toxins. The best rule of thumb is “the less ingredients, the better” so when you are looking to grab something on the go, opt for snacks with simple and few ingredients.
#4. Choose snacks full of fiber -
Try reaching for something with high fiber content in the morning or afternoon to promote digestion. Eating fiber reduces your tendency to overeat as it leaves you feeling full for an extended period of time. Fiber regulates energy levels throughout the day, allowing you to skip that afternoon sugar or caffeine fix! A few smart snack choices rich in fiber include berries, mixed nuts, healthy bagged popcorn or trail mix.
#5. Separate out portion sizes before you are hungry -
Right when you get home from the grocery store, compartmentalize single servings of snacks into plastic baggies or Tupperware for later in the day or week. Don’t wait until you are hungry for a snack to do this, as you are more likely to overeat! In similar style, if you like to sit down with a snack after dinner, pour your snack into a bowl rather than eating out of the box to be fully aware of how much you are eating.
#6. Choose whole grains -
If you prefer carbohydrate-focused snacks and can’t kick the habit, opt for whole grain crackers, breads and granola bars for nutrients and vitamins lacking in non-whole grain varieties. Be sure to check the ingredients on these though, as many food are marketed as “whole grain” but don’t actually include a full serving of whole grains! Check if one of the first three ingredients is whole grains to ensure you are getting those nutrients you expect. Try reaching for an Rx bar or KIND bar for a delicious yet nutritious snack bar that’s easy to take with you on the go.
Ultimately, leave the house prepared to snack throughout the day to save yourself calories and money. Keep in mind that substance and portion size are both equally important to keep yourself on a healthy eating track!