Healthy snacking is a crucial part of any weight loss and fitness program, simply because regular snacks help you avoid feeling deprived – not to mention that snacking on healthy foods helps keep your metabolism running strong, burning more fat and calories.
The trick is to snack in smart ways so you don’t blow your diet and sabotage your goals. Below are 7 smart tips for healthy snacking that can help you stay on track and slip into those skinny jeans in no time.
1 – Plan Ahead
Healthy snacking requires advance planning! If your cupboards are filled with fattening, starchy, high-calorie foods, what do you think you’ll reach for the next time you want a snack?
Plan ahead by peeling, chopping, slicing and preparing healthy foods and keeping them front and center in your cupboards and refrigerators. Place 1 ounce servings of nuts into mini snack baggies; keep a bowl full of healthy fruits on your kitchen table or counter; place containers of sliced raw vegetables on the top shelf of your refrigerator – keep the healthy foods accessible and you’ll remember to eat them.
If you can clear your kitchen of all unhealthy foods, do it. But if it would cause a revolt in your family, at least push the fattening foods to the back of the cupboards and keep them out of sight as much as possible.
2 – Be Prepared
If you’re going to be away from home for several hours, take some healthy snacks with you! Fruit, sliced veggies, nuts, seeds, whole wheat crackers, low fat cheese cubes – these are all easily packaged and taken with you wherever you go.
3 – Be Discriminating
Some healthy foods can still be high in calories, sugar, or fat, and while these foods can be enjoyed for snacks and meals, you’ll want to keep your intake low to moderate. These foods include: olive oil, avacado, nuts, seeds, cheese, creamy or sweet salad dressings, and even some meats and fish have substantial calories, like beef, salmon, swordfish, pork, and a few others.
You can still have some of these for snacks and meals, just be sure to balance them with lower calorie options.
4 – Be Creative
The last thing you want to do is let your diet get boring, because you’ll definitely be more tempted by non-diet-friendly goodies. There are many different ways to be creative with your menus – like whipping up some fruit and yogurt into a smoothie for a sweet afternoon snack; making a delicious egg-white omelet with lots of veggies for lunch; topping a salad with something unexpected like a few berries or mandarin orange slices. Eat breakfast foods for dinner, lunch foods for breakfast, or create your own delicious recipes.
Keep mixing it up and you’re much more likely to stick with a healthy eating plan.
5 – Be Flexible
Another important aspect of healthy snacking is flexibility. Let’s face it; no matter how much planning, preparing and creative thinking you do, sometimes you’re still going to end up eating something that maybe isn’t the best choice – or worse, find yourself in a situation where you’re very hungry but there are no healthy options available.
No sweat! Just mentally readjust your calorie count for the day to make room for a special treat. Some diet plans also allow you to balance your calories over the course of a week, so you can eat more calories one day and fewer calories the next – as long as your weekly calorie count averages out, you’re still on track.
6 – Satisfy Cravings
Healthy snacking doesn’t refer to your food choices alone – you also need to consider emotional cravings for certain kinds of food. When you’re craving something crunchy and salty, a banana just isn’t going to cut it! Most likely you’ll eat the banana, then an apple, then some celery sticks – and still feel unsatisfied.
Instead, before eating a snack, consider the kind of food you are most in the mood for at the moment. Do you want something sweet, soft, salty, crunchy, savory, or . . . ? Do you want finger foods, or something you can eat with a spoon? Considering these things can help you make your snacks much more satisfying.
7 – Keep it Balanced
We all have our favorite snacks and meals – those things we just love to eat. But sticking only to those can still lead to boredom and restlessness. Instead, try to balance old favorites with new foods that you might grow to love just as much. While you’re in the supermarket, take a stroll through the fruit and vegetable aisles. See anything you’ve always been curious about? Buy it and try it!
Also, try to make your meals and snacks themselves balanced by including foods from the important major food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, meat/beans, dairy, and healthy fats.
There you go – 7 easy, smart ways to include healthy snacking in your eating plan.