Smart Summer Snacking
By Christi Ballow, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic
Summer is almost here! That might mean more time spent at home, but it doesn’t have to mean that you abandon your current healthy eating plan. Many people struggle with the temptation to “graze” all day long during the summer. Instead, plan smart and choose snacks that will boost your energy and supply essential vitamins and minerals. Smart snacking can dampen hunger pangs and prevent overeating at meals.
Research has found that making healthful snacks a regular part of your routine can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent unhealthy highs and lows in blood sugar. As with other food choices, remember variety, balance, and moderation in snacking. Snacks should bridge the time gap between lunch and dinner and shouldn’t sabotage the dinner meal.
Make Snacking Easier On Yourself:
- Format your snacks as mini-meals that combine small amounts of protein and fiber to keep you satisfied. Implementing snacks between meals can prevent overeating at meals. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate a protein, moderate-calorie snack before a meal automatically cut back their calories during subsequent meals on the same day.
- Plan snacks ahead of time so you won’t blow your daily calorie budget.
- Keep a variety of ready-to-eat snacks on hand.
- After a trip to the supermarket, wash and trim produce and store for easy access.
- Be mindful when snacking. As with meals, practice portion control. Overeating often occurs when snacking from a multi-serving package. Prepackage your snacks in zip lock bags divided into appropriate serving sizes – make them as easy to grab as a cookie.
- Snack only when you’re hungry. Try an alternate activity when bored, frustrated, or stressed to decrease the urge to snack.
Smart snacks don’t just happen. Buy portable options that are ready to grab on the go. On the go snacks should be sturdy food that won’t get squished in your bag. Tuck portable, nonperishable food in your purse, tote, or backpack for an on the run snack.
Easy, Tasty, Healthy Snacks with 200 Calories or Less:
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter spread on slices of a small apple
- 48 thin pretzel sticks and 1 light cheese stick
- 5 whole grain crackers and 2 slices 2% milk cheese
- 1 (6 inch) corn tortilla, 2 ounces grilled chicken, 2 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella and 2 Tbsp. salsa
- ½ whole wheat English muffin, 1 Tbsp. tomato sauce, and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 (6 inch) multigrain flour tortilla, 1 Tbsp. light cream cheese, and 2 oz. deli turkey breast
- Fruit smoothie – 1 cup fat-free milk, 1 cup frozen strawberries, and ½ frozen banan
- Peach parfait – 1 canned peach half (light syrup), ½ cup low-fat frozen yogurt, and 1 tbsp. granola
- Trail mix – ½ cup Cheerios, 1 Tbsp. peanuts, 1 Tbsp. raisin, and 2 Tbsp. Goldfish crackers, whole grain cheddar
- 3 Ry-Krisp crackers, 1 wedge Laughing Cow light cheese, 1 cup baby carrots
For the Kids
When refueling kids with snacks, offer snacks 2 or more hours before a meal which will not ruin their appetite at mealtime. Keep the nutrition-packed snacks at their eye level in the pantry and/or refrigerator. Lastly, parents’ food choices and lifestyle habits help set their kids’ food decisions and behavior. So as parents, snack smart! If you make smart choices, snacking can make significant contributions to the nutritional quality of your diet and you overall health!
For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services visit our website or call 972.560.2655.