How to Snack Healthy this Summer
The hot summer days are here along with barbecues, days at the beach (or pool), and the occasional picnic. And all of these events bring ample opportunities to snack on delicious treats.
Of course, as any dieter knows, snacking can prove to be the Achilles’ heel to any health conscious individual trying to keep their calories and macros within a certain balanced range.
What do we do?
Do we just deny all our cravings as we white-knuckle our way through every snacking opportunity that comes our way?
Or do we just cave to our dietary pleasures and enjoy all the snacks we can, resigned to the idea of “trying better” next year?
Maybe there’s a better option?
Snacks are pleasurable, and even recommended at times to keep one’s blood sugars level. However, how you snack and the foods you choose matter a great deal when it comes to the battle of the bulge.
With that reality in mind, here are five healthy snacking tips to consider this summer that will help stave off your cravings without bringing on a bunch of guilt.
1) Stay away from “free sugars” and eat more fruit.
Anyone watching their diet knows all too well the problems associated with eating simple sugars. Sucrose, glucose, and even fructose when eaten excessively can lead to all sorts of health issues including weight gain, tooth decay, and even liver problems.
These sugars when ingested through the consumption of juices, soft drinks, cookies, and candy are often high in caloric value, offering little other nutritional value.
Ok, so then why is fruit okay for you?
Fruit contains natural sugars as well, of course, but unlike sugar in candy or fruit juice that has been extracted from its natural source (i.e. free sugar), the sugar in fruit is not as concentrated and therefore not excessive. For instance, you would have to eat six whole oranges to get the same amount of sugar you would ingest from consuming just one bottle of juice!
Beyond that, eating fruit offers other benefits such as being a great source of fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins. In fact, it is recommended by most national dietary guidelines to consume two pieces of fruit per day. Just reach for fresh fruit over dried fruit.
That being said, try to stick with options that are lower on the glycemic index.
2) Load up on the veggies
Yes, this is the obvious one you were expecting us to list—but the value of vegetables when it comes to your health can not be overstated!
Besides being an excellent source of vitamins with a low caloric value, vegetables are rich in fiber and complex carbs. And when paired with protein or healthy fat, they will keep you feeling full for hours, not just minutes!
3) Go whole grain
Whole-grain snacks are an excellent snacking option offering you fiber, essential nutrients (including protein and iron), and rich flavors.
Whole grains will not only fill you up, but also help maintain steady energy levels and may even offer specific health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (according to the Journal of Nutrition).
That being said, realize that snacks marketed as “whole grain” may also contain high amounts of salt and fat. Read your labels before purchasing!
4) Combo it up
So we know that fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats (like avocados) are all excellent options for snacking opportunities. But when you combine these macronutrients at each snacking session, these balanced options will tend to keep you feeling more satisfied.
Also, when eating something that contains a good amount of healthy fat that’s also a bit heavier in calories (like natural peanut butter), try combining it with a larger portion of something very light such as celery sticks.
5) Snack intentionally, not mindlessly
Even if you are disciplined enough to limit your snacking options to healthy items like fruits and vegetables, be sure to snack mindfully.
Avoid snacking while surfing the Internet or parked in front of the TV. Doing so can lead to the mindless consumption of calories. Instead, when feeling the urge, stop what you’re doing and sit down to eat your snack like you would a small meal. This way, you will avoid overeating while still being satisfied.
The bottom line is this: snacking can be a very healthy part of your daily food intake. But you need to keep an eye on what you are eating, how much, and when. Keep it balanced, keep it intentional, and keep it sensible. If you do that, you’ll be just fine.
If all this sounds a little confusing or if you just have questions, remember we are always here to help in your weight loss journey. Simply contact your nearest Bee Healthy Clinic location today for a free consultation.