Depending on the size of your meals and activity level during the day, you may find yourself looking for a snack here and there. All foods can fit into your diet with moderation and balance. As an active adult, chasing kids, trains or planes, you are likely to get hungry between meals. Snacking is OK, and there’s no reason to be embarrassed by your snacking – unless it’s unhealthy. Adding a couple of healthy snacks during your day can also add vital nutrients to your diet that you would otherwise miss out on. Let’s face it: Many Americans do not follow a healthy diet, and this includes snacking. From high fat to high amounts of sodium and sugary foods, many typical snack foods are just plain-and-simple bad for you. Here are some suggestions for becoming a healthy snacker and improving your overall diet.
Snacking should be practiced only when you are actually hungry and should be matched with physical activity. If you are sitting in front of a computer all day and then you go home to sit in front of the television, it is likely you don’t need to be snacking. But, if on the other hand if you follow a daily exercise routine, you walk to work, or you do a lot of running around during the day you may want to consider adding some healthy snacks to your diet. Other than adding vital nutrients to your diet, snacking can give you an energy boost if you choose the right foods. Forty five minutes to an hour of daily exercise will also help improve your overall health.
If you want to snack healthy provide yourself with healthy things to eat. Do not keep unhealthy snacks in your home, at work in your desk, in the glove box of the car, or anywhere else. Unhealthy snacks may be potato chips, baked goods, ice cream, some cereals, candy, or whatever your secret indulgence is. Basically stay away from foods high in fat, especially saturated, those foods high in salt and sodium, and sugary foods including many beverages. Juice, bottled tea, and many sports drinks are high in sugar although they claim to have health benefits. You should limit your intake of these types of food to once a week or less. You can treat yourself once in a while, but it’s not an excuse to overindulge on unhealthy foods.
The best way to determine whether or not your snacking is healthy is to read the nutrition facts on the back of the package. Saturated fats and cholesterol are dangerous for your heart and your health. If partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are listed in the ingredients you are best off not eating it. Look for whole grains like wheat, bran, or oats listed under the ingredients. Organic ingredients will be of the best quality but natural snacks are also fine. Truthfully, you are better off eating whole foods and whole grains because they are more nutritious than processed and refined foods. As we age, it’s important to eat healthy and exercise in order to avoid illness and disease.
During your day you should try to consume at least 3 cups fruits and vegetables, but more is better. Healthy snacking doesn’t mean you have to eat the same things over and over again. There is so much more than apples and bananas available for snacking. Variety will keep you interested and will supply you with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. In most commercial grocery stores you can find a huge variety of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Organic and natural food products also offer lots of healthy snacking options from air puffed corn to baked vegetable chips.
Popcorn, crackers, rice cakes, and granola are all healthy snacking options. Combine crackers with cheese, peanut butter, or a bit of jelly. Rice cakes are great alongside vegetables and granola can be mixed with dried fruits like raisins, apricots, or cranberries. Peanuts, walnuts, dried vegetables, dried fruits , and lots of other nuts can also be great for snacking. Fruits and vegetables can be blended with ice to create fresh smoothies without the added sugar, or processed with a juicer to create healthy shakes. Because most ice cream is generally fatty and sugary you may want to opt for a frozen yogurt which is much healthier. Try combining frozen yogurt with berries or nuts to add more flavor, or use it for fresh shakes and smoothies instead of ice cream.
As previously mentioned, snacking can fit into a healthy diet with moderation. You have to figure, most restaurant portions and even most vending machine snacks are too large. Follow the guidelines on the back of the package for portion sizes. With most snacks you are good with a cup to a cup and a half depending on what it is you are eating. If you are going to snack you should also be exercising daily so try to get at least 45 minutes in. You should only snack between meals, not after and you should avoid late night snacking altogether. Eating smaller meals may also be ideal if you are big on snacks, but if you have an extra large meal you should consider skipping your snacks for the day. Snacking can also help battle hunger pangs that make you overeat at meal times by taking some of the edge off. For active adults, snacking is part of an overall healthy lifestyle, as long as you practice moderation and combine with daily exercise.