Snacks are very important in our overall diet. They fill us up between meals, add variety to the foods we eat and if we pick the healthy ones, can go a long way in improving our health. Snacks are all around and come in many different shapes and sizes. You can go with fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, chocolate, chips or nuts and the list goes on and on. With all these choices, it can be hard to pick the right one.
What’s a healthy snack?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a healthy snack. Calories, taste and nutrient content are the most important. Depending on your weight goals, (gain, lose or maintain) calories will play a different role. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want a snack lower in calories than if you’re trying to maintain or gain weight.
The amount of calories you should devote to snacks is equal to the total calories in your day minus the calories from your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). If you plan on having 2,000 calories today and your meals add up to 1,600 calories, snacks can make up those last 400. This isn’t set in stone but it should give you an idea of how many snacks you should eat.
If your snack calorie ‘allowance’ is high then you can go for higher calorie option: chocolate, potato chips or pretzels. If you go with these options, remember what moderation is. Any food can fit into a healthy diet if it’s done in moderation. Eat 1 serving of chocolate or pretzels but not the whole bag.
The biggest consideration you should make when picking a snack is its nutrient content. Each day you need to get 100% of your vitamin and mineral needs. If you aren’t getting this from your meals, snacks can help plug the holes. When it comes to how many nutrients a food contains, fruits and vegetables are by far the best. This is why one of the healthiest snack will be a fruit or salad.
If you’re not a big fan of fruits, try picking a different one each time you go shopping. Eating an apple a day for a month can get boring but eating an apple a day this week and a peach a day next week adds variety to your diet. To make your salads or vegetables more appealing, use dips, salad dressing or olive oil and vinegar.
The Bottom Line
Remember that moderation is key with most foods. You can enjoy the occasional candy and chocolate as long as you don’t eat multiple servings in one sitting. These foods mixed in with an otherwise complete and healthy diet shouldn’t be avoided, they should be enjoyed responsibly.