Americans are snacking more than ever. In fact, about half of us eat more than 25% of our calories as snacks. Unfortunately the increase in the volume of snack often means an increases the volume of empty calories we consume in a day. But watching calories and making healthy food choices does not mean you can’t snack, it simply requires a little planning. Check out some tips and snack picks below to snack your way to a healthier you.
Make a Plan. It’s easy to forget that snacks include that mid-morning donut box nibble, afternoon latté, or after-work drink. Planning your day to include “snack time” will help you to bypass some of the more mindless grazing that happens throughout your day.
If you know you’re inclined to snack at a certain time each day, plan ahead with a pre-made snack or some quick-grab healthy choices to avoid candy bag binges or snacking straight from the refrigerator. Reserve a work-free 5-10 minutes to enjoy that food to prevent mindless overeating. Let your body and mind register what you've taken in to help regulate your appetite.
Control your portions. Whether you’re bagging snacks yourself or buying snack-sized packs from the store, avoid snacking from a larger container. If more food is available to snack on, you’re likely to eat more of it and likely won’t feel any more satisfied. Instead, get the volume you need to feel full from lower calorie fruits and vegetables with a little indulgence here and there. Studies show that most of us are just as satisfied with a smaller portion. For most women, aiming for no more than 300-400 calories total each day from snacks can help manage weight..
Eat your calories. Even though some drinks have as many calories as a large snack or a meal, drinks satisfy less. This makes you less likely to cut back your calorie intake elsewhere in the day, resulting in calorie excess and weight gain.
Pack it with nutrition! Don’t fall victim to the calorie-heavy and nutrient-light vending machine options. Some studies show that women who consume snacks also consume more fiber, fruits, and vegetables—a healthy solution to your midday or late-night hunger. Add in protein and you’ll stay satisfied until your next planned meal.
Whether you’re craving sweet or salty, below are some healthy and delicious favorites even if you have no time to prep!
Kind Bars or Trader Joe’s “Just a Handful” Trail Mix: Pre-portioned dried fruit, seeds and nuts from ~100-250 calories. All the benefits of heart-healthy nuts without worries about over-snacking.
Ginger Tea Latte: I love Yogi Ginger Tea with ½ cup vanilla soy or almond milk. It’s a delicious hot or iced treat alongside a piece of fruit or some chopped veggies.
Veggies (1 cup) and Black Bean Dip or Hummus (3 Tablespoons): Get protein and fiber from your dip and all the benefits of vitamin-rich vegetables. Portion out the dip before you start nibbling to keep from over-indulging.
Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and dipped in nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt: Fulfills a sweet craving with a boost of bone-building calcium!
Whole Grain Crackers (~7 crackers) spread with part-skim ricotta (1/4 cup), dotted with cherry tomato halves (1/2 cup): Whole grain fiber, a serving of vegetables, alongside delicious, creamy cheese.
Suzanne Hollander, MS, RD
Suzanne practices as a Clinical Dietitian in Los Angeles, where in her free time she enjoys running, hiking, cooking and exploring Southern California (including frequent attempts at the stuffed animal claw machine). Recipes packed with seasonal flavors, conversation-sparking surprises, and easy prep work are her saving graces year-round. Check out her musings on delicious food and healthy living at