Snacking is a satisfying and enjoyable, sometimes social pastime in our culture. And it’s universal- “little plates” hold an honored place in European noshing. We love Spanish tapas, French “petits plats,” and exquisite Basque pintxos. But not all between-meal munching is good for you- it depends on why and what you eat. We’ve pulled together three snack hacks to help you snack smart:
While we’re still spending a lot of our time at home, it’s easy to mindlessly munch our day away. Make better food decisions by taking a moment to gauge your hunger before you reach for a snack.
First, check for physical signs of hunger, like a growling stomach or drooping energy. Then, ask yourself what you are feeling and what urge is raising its hand. Would it feel better to call a friend, move your body, or drink a big glass of water? Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing one of these things. If your body is just antsy to move, try a dance workout instead before you reach for the snacks!
Hold Out for the Best Snacks
When your body is hungry, a snack is in order. Imagine a magic wand in your hand that can provide any snack your body wants. What would appear if you waved it? That may be your best food choice.
Research tells us that nutrition absorption depends on enjoyment. That is, bland “healthy” food can provide less nutrition than food we savor. One study divided women into two groups, one group that loved a particular dish and one that didn’t. All the women ate the dish, but the women who liked the food got 50 percent more nutrition from the meal than the other group.
So ask yourself: Sweet or savory? Crunchy or creamy? Protein or carbs? If you can narrow down what would taste best, you can eliminate the rest.
Healthy Snacks for All Occasions
Certain snacks will fill you up, level out your blood sugar, and tame your cravings. According to dietitians, the most satisfying snack combinations are those that contain fiber, protein, and healthy fat. Put together snack combinations of raw veggies with bean dip or hummus, apple slices with peanut butter, or whole-grain crackers with canned tuna. For something sweet, top Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh berries.
It may be easier to make snacks ahead and have them ready for the moment a craving strikes. Try making a healthy trail mix with sunflower seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. Have roasted chickpeas, edamame, or air-popped popcorn with peanuts on hand for a healthy and tasty snack.