I was at home this weekend and it came to me that I needed to do post on snacks. I won't say who, but I witnessed someone I love frequenting the pantry for cookies very often. Nutrition is my niche and while I'm not perfect I wanted to help. What is the point of snacks?
Snacks are meant to satisfying hunger in between meals. Therefore, they don't need to be large, but enough to tide you over. A typical snack is about 200 calories. But if you're hangry, you may want a larger snack. Don't feel boxed in by that number.
Snacks are also opportunities to fill voids in your diet. Find where your diet is lacking that day and eat something of that variety. I use them as opportunities to get more fruit and vegetables.
When should you snack?
Whenever you're hungry! Some people don't snack at all in between meals. Some people only in the afternoon. Some people snack in between all meals and after dinner. Whatever works for you!
Snacks to manage blood sugar.
Whether you have diabetes/prediabetes or you just want a snack that won't leave you feeling tired a few hours after, here are some tips for snacking.
Basically all carbohydrates raise your blood sugar (bread, pasta, crackers, fruit, dairy, and desserts). First off, look at the serving size of the carbohydrate, this can guide you towards how much to eat. Then pair with protein and/or fat as this will decrease the spike in your blood sugar. Third, choose something with fiber (whole grains or whole wheat, fruit or vegetables, legumes) because that provides more nutrition and dulls the effect on your blood sugar.
Some snack ideas:
- Peanut butter crackers
- Trail mix
- Cottage cheese and fruit
- Turkey and cheese roll up
- Crackers and cheese stick
- 1/2 sandwich
Sweets and snacks:
Do you have a raging sweet tooth? Do you find yourself snacking on candy and cookies at various points throughput the day? First, be aware of it. Then look a little deeper. Are you really craving sweets or will another snack suffice? Can you watch your portion?
I like to say that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Even candy and sweets. Think of them as another snack instead of a dessert. This means watching your portion size so it's about 200 calories and trying to choose something with a bit more nutrition. Apple pie has some fiber compared to a chocolate mousse pie. Peanut butter cookies have some protein compared to snickerdoodle cookies. Carrot cake usually has walnuts (and carrots) for extra nutrition compared to a vanilla cupcake.
Make a plan of attack (different strategies work for different people):
- Portion snacks out when you buy them (sweets too!)
- Prepare a list of easy snacks.
- Think of sweets as snacks and watch your portion.
- Choose sweets with some nutrition (peanut butter or oatmeal raisin cookie, carrot cake, apple pie rather than peeps, white chocolate, cupcakes).
- Pair with protein and/or fat.
- Make fruit and vegetables accessible and easy.
- Choose snacks that fill gaps in your diet.
- When do you like to snack? Where can you fit sweets in without going overboard?
- Can a dietitian help you? (Yes!!)