While snacking is one of life’s best guilty pleasures — whether you have a sweet tooth or tend to reach for something savory — snacks have the potential to wreak havoc on your diet. There’s no need to quit snacking cold turkey, but swapping chips for a more filling option could be the key to maintaining a healthy diet.
Foods high in fiber are a great option to keep you full in between meals. According to the Mayo Clinic, fibrous foods “provide volume [and] also take longer to digest.” In addition to keeping you full on a fewer amount of calories, fiber is also a key nutrient in regulating your digestive tract. Healthy fibrous foods include almonds, avocados and whole grains.
Fat may sound like the main culprit of an unhealthy diet, but it is actually essential in suppressing your appetite. The fat in foods sends a message hormones in your body that let you know when it’s time to stop eating. While trans fats and saturated fats are unhealthy in excess, unsaturated fats that are found in eggs, avocados and salmon are good for the body.
Protein also triggers a similar release of hormones that tell your body that it is full. Researchers suggest that smaller amounts of protein throughout the day, rather than larger portions once or twice a day, could lead to weight loss and promote a healthier lifestyle. Meat isn’t the only way to receive protein though, as there are lots of foods that contain high amounts of protein and are perfect for snacking. Greek yogurt is a perfect mix of protein and fat, and it even gives the body some calcium to help keep your bones strong.
We’ve almost been trained to think that carbohydrates are ‘diet ruiners,’ but in reality they are an important component to a healthy lifestyle. The weight associated with carbs actually comes from an excess intake which can happen with any food group. The recommended amount of carbs is three to five servings and should consist mostly of whole grain.
So what now? Snacking isn’t all that bad for the body, but making smart decisions about what you snack on is pivotal to your health. Next time you find yourself reaching for the chips, try a piece of whole grain toast with half a mashed avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice on top. For some added protein, throw on some scrambled egg whites. A handful of unsalted mixed nuts is also an easy, healthy option to snack on throughout the day.