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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

Snack Attack

This post is courtesy of a student I have had the pleasure of working with the past few months. Lauren Wolfrum, a Bradley University senior studying dietetics, digs deep on a subject we all know something about-snacking!

A lot of people get it, that rumbling feeling in your stomach a few hours after lunch but still too early for dinner. If you wait until dinner you end up overindulging and feeling stuffed afterwards. A snack is a great way to curb that afternoon hunger so you eat a well portioned dinner BUT it depends greatly on what your snack consists of.

According to Specialty Foods Magazine, about one third of consumers eat their snack at work or school. Also, there has been thousands of new snack or cereal bars introduced to the market in only four years, from 2008 to 2012. With snacks being eaten on the go or away from home it seems easiest to grab a bag of salty or sugary snack food from a vending machine, but there are ways to make snacking much healthier.

In order to create a balanced snack it is easier to think of it like a small meal. That means snacking requires preparation and planning ahead of time to prevent grazing or eating unhealthy prepackaged snack foods. Think about throwing some fresh strawberries or blueberries and granola in a bag to keep in your desk for a quick bite to eat. If you bag up produce or nuts ahead of time it makes the decision of what to eat for a snack much easier.

Another important point to consider is to snack only when you are positive you are hungry. Snacking can become part of a daily routine. Stop to think about how hungry you are before you eat. Do you really need that granola bar at 11 o'clock or are you just used to eating then? It is easy to start eating because you are stressed or bored but that will lead to over consuming. When you make your snack take out the portion you want to eat instead of eating out of the bag or box. If you are distracted on the computer or in front of the television while eating, before you know it the whole bag will be gone.

A snack filled with protein and fresh fruits or vegetables will keep you full and give you the energy you need to get through the day. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a snack should be around 200 calories or less. Making homemade treats will help you stay away from snack foods that try to real you in with their low fat or no trans-fat labels. Making your own trail mix or baking granola bars to easily take with you wherever you go are great solutions.

Here are some simple snacking ideas:

  • Apple slices and one tablespoon peanut butter
  • Baby carrots, snap peas, sliced green peppers, or cherry tomatoes dipped in a little ranch dressing
  • Whole grain crackers with a slice of cheese
  • A cup of yogurt topped with berries of your choice
  • Blended smoothie with low-fat milk, yogurt, and fruit
  • Make a small sandwich on a dinner roll with one slice of meat and cheese
  • A few pita chips and 1 tablespoon hummus

Make sure to plan ahead and you will be on your way to healthy snacking!

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