Healthy Snacks


Snacks do not have to be unhealthy. In fact, they are a very important part of a healthy diet.

Summer is vacation time and we are busy enjoying the warmer weather with friends and family. Some people like to stay very busy on their time off, others like to slow things down. Either way, the rhythm of our lives changes and sometimes that keeps us from making healthy choices. Whether you decide to take a vacation or a “stay-cation,” make sure you plan your meals and snacks. This should always be a part of your summer routine.

When we think of snacks we think of unhealthy foods. Potato chips, cookies, candy bars all come to mind when we think snacks. We are faced with fast and convenient foods in establishments and vending. These foods are everywhere, even in non-food establishments like gas stations. When you travel and change your routine, you are faced with these foods more often and it becomes difficult to make the right choice, even for the most vigilant.

Snacks do not have to be unhealthy. In fact, they are a very important part of a healthy diet. They are particularly
important for children who are growing and active and who may not get all the nutrition they need in their meals. Snacks can boost your energy between meals and supply essential vitamins and minerals. They can keep you going on busy days when you just don’t have time to sit down to a long meal time. Think of them as small mini-meals that
contribute to your vitamin and mineral needs. There are a few things to remember when you think about snacking.

• Keep your choices whole. Whole foods are better than processed foods. When you choose snacks, be sure they are a part of your eating plan without overspending your calorie budget.
• Snack only when you are hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you are bored, frustrated or stressed. Feed the urge to do something by walking the dog or working the garden. You can also go for a pedicure or call a friend. Sometimes all we need to do is think about why we are looking for that snack. Ask yourself if you are hungry for food or companionship.
• Keep your portion control in mind. Have a single–serve container of yogurt or put a small serving of nuts in a bowl. Eating directly from a multiple-serving package can lead to overeating.
• Plan snacks ahead of time. Keep a variety of nutritious ready-to-eat supplies on hand, such as low fat string cheese, fresh fruits or whole grain crackers.
• Don’t shop for snacks when you are hungry: Make snacks a part of your shopping list and don’t be tempted by those highfat, high-sodium and high-sugar items that are so tempting when you haven’t eaten a good, well-balanced meal.
• Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. One whole fruit or ½ cup of berries or melon is a great snack when you put it with one ounce of cheese ½ cup of cottage cheese or 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt.

The following snacks are good examples of healthy choices and will give you the energy and nutrition you need to keep moving through your summer days. They range from 200 to 300 calories. Make sure you count them in your daily intake if you are watching your weight:
• Low-fat Greek yogurt with two tablespoons of granola • One cup grapes with one ounce of low-fat cheese. String cheese is already in a one ounce portion size container.
• An apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter
• Carrot and celery sticks or cucumber slices with low-fat dressing
• ¼ cup of almonds, cashews or walnuts with ¼ cup of raisins
• ½ peanut butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole grain bread
• One cup of tomato soup with about six whole grain crackers
• Three cups of air-popped popcorn sprinkle with three tablespoons of parmesan cheese
• Celery stick and two tablespoons of peanut butter
• Small baked potato with one ounce of low-fat cheese and salsa
• Whole wheat pita cut into wedges with two tablespoons of hummus for dip
• Plain instant oatmeal with one tablespoon of honey and ½ cup of berries or sliced peaches
• One piece of any whole fruit

When you do travel on quick trips, make sure you pack snacks that will keep you feeling full and ward off hunger. You will be faced with too many temptations from vending and fast foods, and it is best to know what you will be eating until you reach your final destination, even if it is home sweet home.•

Healthy Snacks Snacks do not have to be unhealthy. In fact, they are a very important part of a healthy diet.


Barbara Mintz, MS, RD, Vice President of Healthy Living and Community Engagement for Barnabas Health, New Jersey.

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