Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Smart Snacking

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting on June 8, 2010.

Make Smart snacking part of your healthy plan — Eating healthy snacks can help curb your hunger, keep you from overeating at mealtimes, and provide energy for your busy day.

The key to healthy snacks is to plan them so that you are not snacking impulsively. You can use a healthy snack to add important nutrients and to keep you away from those empty calories at the vending machine.

Benefits of Healthy Snacks: Choose foods that will keep hunger from calling out to you, like low-fat dairy products for calcium and vitamin D, and fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Studies show that Americans need more of these nutrients, and your snack is a good place to get them.

Healthy snacks can also: (1) Control hunger. Snacks that are high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make you feel full; therefore, you'll be less likely to overeat at mealtime. (2) Boost energy. Timing snacks throughout your day can keep you energized and alert. (3) Curb cravings. Planning a healthy snack during your day will help you avoid indulgences like a chocolate bar or chips.
Tips for Snacking: Strategizing your snacking habits will help you make smarter choices about what and when to eat. You need to develop healthy eating habits around snacking just as you do with the rest of your plan. Mindless snacking should be avoided.

Here are some additional smart snacking tips: (1) Control portions. Try to keep Snacks at 200 calories or less. (2) Consider timing. Snack when you need the energy, such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon. (3) Plan ahead. Make healthy snacks at home and bring them with you. Take along healthy beverages, too, so you won't be tempted by soda and other high point drinks. (4) Make the right selections. Healthy snacking requires healthy shopping. Just because a food says "all natural" doesn't mean it's good for you. “Natural” juice drinks can be filled with sugar, and an average granola bar gets 35 percent of its calories from fat.

Examples of Healthy Snacks: Try yogurt with berries, or mix some protein and fiber for a healthy snack. A slice of cheese on top of a slice of apple or string cheese and grapes will give you protein for energy and fiber to fill you up. Another great choice is 100-calorie microwave popcorn. Popcorn is a filling, whole-grain snack. Here are some other snacks that'll please your palate: Chopped raw vegetables with low-fat dip, dressing, or peanut butter. Whole-grain pretzels/crackers, or sliced pita bread with hummus or spicy mustard. Frozen fruit in an ice pop or blended into a smoothie. Homemade trail mix of whole-grain cereal with chopped nuts and dried berries . Hard boiled eggs. Pistachios are referred to as the ‘skinny nut’ because the shells help us subconsciously cut calories without deprivation. How? Studies show that the shell makes the serving size appear larger and fools our brains into thinking we're full. Plus, the used shells act as a visual reminder of how much you've eaten. Nutritionally, 30 pistachios (or 49 nuts per 1-ounce serving) contain 100 calories and have 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Our bodies are designed for frequent refueling in order to keep hormone levels steady and to maximize mental and physical energy. Eating light, nourishing meals interspersed with healthy snacks to keep hunger at bay can help prevent you from indulging in uncontrollable eating at a later time. With these tips and the right planning, snacking can be both an enjoyable and nutritious part of your plan. You'll be in control of hunger!

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