What do you think about snacking? Is that good or bad for us? It’s all the junk food people like to snack on that gives snacking a bad name: chips, candy bars, french fries, soda, and so on.
In fact, if you eat until you are comfortable (not “full”) at lunch, chances are you’ll need a mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner with plenty of energy. The secret to smart snacking is to snack only when you need to and to select smarter snacks.
1. Healthy snacks is one way
If you try some of the healthier snack alternatives out there, you may well find that you enjoy them. This appears to be true even of college students. One college dining hall discovered that when it offered healthy snacks along with traditional ones, a significant portion of the student population actually opted for health.
If you’re one of the many people whose idea of a good snack is something crunchy and salty, know that you can have your crunch and eat smart, too. Here are a few possibilities for more healthful crunchy snack foods:
– Low Fat Kettle Crisps
– Baked Tostitos
– Reduced Fat Triscuits
– Padrinos Reduced Fat Tortilla Chips
2. Avoid trans fats
Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol. Well, guess which type of food they tend to lurk in? Snack foods – things like crackers, snack cakes and pies, frozen fried microwave snacks, and cookies. Anything with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” listed among the top three ingredients on the label is suspect.
3. Be a label detective.
Check out the Nutrition Information label on packaging. This will tell you what the company calls a portion of that food. Prepare to be amazed: What they say is a serving and what you actually eat may be completely different. The Nutrition Information label lists the calories; grams of fat, saturated fat and trans fat; and, sometimes, grams of sugar.
4. Watch out energy bars.
There are all kinds of “energy” or “power” bars being marketed under the guise of convenience and good nutrition. The truth is, these carry-anywhere bars can come in handy. But a review of many different energy bar labels reveals that choosing a bar is a matter of “picking your poison.” That is, deciding what means most to you – taste, fat, fiber, protein, sugars?
5. Don’t snack if you aren’t really hungry.
When people who aren’t hungry eat a snack — whether it’s high in carbs or protein — they do not tend to reduce the number of calories they eat at dinner. Snacking can play a role in obesity.
6. Avoid high-fat snacks.
There are lots of reasons to avoid fatty snacks, including the possibility that they actually encourage overeating.
7. Look out for TV temptations.
So if you watch TV, keep in mind that food companies are working to lure you into buying their snack foods and junk foods.