February is National Snack Food Month. This is a great time to check in on your snacking habits and gear up for a reset. Sometimes we may feel regret rather than satisfaction after indulging in a snack and wish we had made a better choice. Snacking doesn’t have to be bad, though; with some planning, you can be proud of your snack time decisions.
Is All Snacking Bad?
Snacking can be negative when extra calories are consumed that don’t provide any nutritional benefit. Snacking can be an almost unconscious activity while working, watching TV, or just because of boredom. It is important to understand cues for snacking. If you know when you are usually triggered to grab a snack, you can plan to have some healthier options available when the time comes.
However, for hunger between meals, snacking is a great way to tide you over. Snacking can help prevent overeating at the next meal. Prepare ahead of time and choose healthy snacks with fiber and protein. These options will satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling full longer while avoiding empty calories from sugar, salt and fat.
Healthy Snacking Alternatives
Here are fun alternatives to your favorite unhealthy snacks:
- Try yogurt instead of ice cream. If you usually scoop out a bowl of ice cream at night, a low-fat yogurt may fill the need for a cold and creamy snack.
- Swap your candy for fresh fruit. Less sugar and more fiber make for a more fulfilling snack. Frozen grapes are a great option.
- Instead of tortilla chips and queso, try some pita chips and fresh salsa. The calorie difference alone is worth the swap, but you will also benefit from lower sodium and sugar intake.
- Whole grain crackers can be an excellent substitute for the crunch of potato chips. The fiber will fill you up, and you’ll be taking in a lot less sodium.
- Swap out your buttery salty popcorn with a healthier version, lighter on salt and air popped. You get all the benefits of fiber and avoid sodium and fat.
Snacks can have a significant impact on your overall daily caloric intake. It is easy to overlook or underestimate the calories consumed while snacking, but they do eventually add up. Most of us will not account for the calories consumed during a snack and consume less at our next meal. Making better choices during snack time could significantly impact weight loss or maintenance goals.
You are much more likely to get hungry again shortly after devouring junk food than if you take the time to choose a healthy snack. Fiber does a great job of making you feel full longer, while sugary and salty snacks offer little more than extra calories. Junk food may make you feel good temporarily, but it doesn’t provide the nutrition your body needs to thrive throughout the day.
Because It’s National Snack Food Month…
Why not take this opportunity to try something different? Many of us are simply snacking on auto-pilot. Break the rut and see how it goes!
The new year is still fresh, and National Snack Food Month is an excellent opportunity to keep the momentum going with fresh and healthy snack food options. If you need guidance on your snack time decisions, schedule a visit with Center for Family Medicine. We’ll guide your whole family toward healthier living.