It’s still hours until dinner and your stomach is grumbling. You open the fridge and find some fruit, yogurt, and a chocolate bar. Which do you reach for?
To keep your energy levels high and avoid those extra pounds, it’s smart to limit your intake of foods that contain a lot of sugar and fat, like candy bars, potato chips, cakes and soda.
Here are some tips on how to stay healthy while snacking:
- Try to eat foods that contain fiber like whole-grain breads, cereals, fruit, and vegetables and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese.
- Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. Cut up fruits or vegetables and keep them in bags in the fridge so when you get home from school, healthy snacks will already be waiting for you.
- Keep healthy snacks with you. Don’t rely on the cafeteria for your snacks, where much of the food sold is unhealthy. Make it a habit to always keep some healthy snacks in your bag or backpack.
- Be creative. Healthy snacking doesn’t have to be boring!
- If you crave something unhealthy, try substituting with healthier choices. For example, drink chocolate milk instead of eating a candy bar. Eat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or pretzels instead of potato chips.
- Read the labels on foods and pay attention to serving sizes. 1 package of biscuits can contain 2 or more servings — which means double or even triple the amounts of fat and calories you see on the label.
- Here in the Middle East, especially at gatherings, the dinner is often served very late. If you become hungry waiting for dinner, your only option is to munch on the abundance of sweets and fried foods which are offered. Try to avoid this by eating something healthy before you go to the gathering, so that you can make it until dinner time without stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods.
- Beware of package claims- just because something says “All Natural” doesn’t mean it’s healthy! For example, potato chips may be “All Natural” but filled with fat and salt. Juice may be “All Natural” but filled with sugar.
Some suggestions for healthy snacking include:
- Banana sliced in half and spread lightly with peanut butter.
- Bean burrito.
- Cheese toast (whole grain bread with low-fat cheese).
- Cut-up vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing.
- Hummus on a whole-wheat pita.
- Hummus and vegetables, such as carrot or cucumber.
- Low-fat yogurt with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.
- Oatmeal made with low-fat milk with strawberries.
- Peanut butter and honey or banana sandwich on whole-grain bread.
- Red grapes and cheese.
- Serving of almonds and dried cranberries.
- Slice of cheese or veggie pizza.
- Multi-grain toast with low-fat cream cheese.
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers.
- Tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread.
- Turkey and low-fat cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato.
- Vegetable soup.
- Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.
- Peanut butter on celery sticks or apple slices sprinkled with raisins.
- Ice pops: Freeze fresh, unsweetened 100% juice in ice pop molds or ice cube trays.
- Trail mix: Combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with ¼ cup chopped walnuts and ¼ cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix.
- An egg and cheese sandwich.