Weighing In: Start Snacking Right

Summer is almost here which means slipping into a bathing suit is right around the corner. You might begin to think — should you be cutting calories? Maybe stop snacking? Well, according to Penn State nutrition professor Jennifer Fleming, you definitely should not cut out snacking.

“A lot of people think that they shouldn’t snack, but I think healthy snacking is extremely important,” says Fleming.

In fact, snacking prevents your blood sugar and glucose levels from crashing in between meals throughout the day. “It’s really important for students on campus, so often they’ll go from class to class and forget that they haven’t eaten in four hours,” says Fleming.

But not all snacks will provide the nutrient to hold you over from lunch to dinner. The key is choosing a snack that provides the important nutrients. “Healthy snacking is like a mini meal in that you want to get a little protein or a little fat to help hold you over in addition to a carbohydrate,” says Fleming. “To sustain you it’s good to have a nice balance.”

Valley has done the hard work and put together a list of snacks that will help get you through the day.

Carrots Chips & Guacamole

If you have yet to discover carrot chips, put down whatever you’re doing and run to the nearest grocery store. But you won’t find carrot chips in the snack aisle alongside the pretzels. Carrot chips are in the fresh produce section right with all the veggies, because they are really just actual carrots!

The best part is that they are in ridged-chip shape so they are easy to dip in delicious concoctions like guacamole. And the best part is (besides the fact that guac is scrumptious) that guacamoles main ingredient is an avocado, which is dense with nutrients. The heart-healthy fat will reduce your hunger and hold you over until your next meal. Another alternative is hummus made with chickpeas, which provide a lot of protein.

Popcorn & Toppings of your choosing

You never think of popcorn as healthy, but it contains a lot of fiber, which means it is a great snack because it will help fill you up faster and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, it is so easy to make in a dorm room or tiny apartment. All you need is a brown paper bag, some kernels and a microwave. Throw some olive oil and maybe a little salt or garlic and you’ve got yourself a great snack. You can even add some cinnamon if you’re feeling like having a sweet-and-salty snack.

Trail Mix

The great thing about trail mix is that you can make your own and chose the ingredients. A trail mix with nuts and dried fruit is rich in fiber and protein, so it will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Trail mix can also be made with cereal as a base. Fleming recommends choosing a cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar.

Nut Butters & Pita Bread

Nut butters like peanut or almond butter are great examples of healthy fats that pack a punch with protein. Most pita breads are simply made up of whole wheat flower and water, so they are a great snack choice. Pairing a nut butter with pita bread is delicious and provides a great source of protein and whole grains for that day.

“Snacking shouldn’t be any different than a meal,” says Fleming. “When you have a meal you want to get your fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and there’s no reason why your snack shouldn’t cover those same bases.”