It's perfectly okay to munch between meals--if you choose the right foods.
Three square meals a day--with never an extra bite in between--was once the golden rule for a healthy diet. Nowadays, though, there's a better approach. While not eating between meals can result in low blood sugar (which leaves you famished and lethargic), snacking actually increases energy levels and boosts metabolism as it helps curb hunger pangs. Plus, you won't inhale your next meal and wind up feeling uncomfortably full.
The challenge today is finding healthy snacks--especially in the South with our down-home cooking. Try these easy and nutritious treats. Cranberry-Cinnamon Granola Bars and Lemon-Blueberry Muffins are ideal for taking to work or on a road trip--and kids love them.
Just as we should hydrate ourselves throughout the day, we also need to nourish our bodies. Here are some guidelines for healthful snacking.
- Plan your day to make snacking a conscious activity, and have some healthful snacks on hand.
- Choose snacks from several different food groups, limiting those high in fat and sugar.
- Eat snacks well ahead of your next meal so you won't spoil your appetite. Snack only when you are hungry.
- Brush your teeth between meals and snacks to prevent constant munching. A minty fresh feeling can help suppress the desire to eat.
For more information on healthful snacking, visit the American Dietetic Association at eatright.org.
- Start a new snacking regimen by keeping nutritious foods on hand, which begins with wise choices at the grocery store.
- Increase your calcium intake by purchasing your favorite yogurt or yogurt-fruit smoothie in the dairy case.
- Choose granola or cereal bars for a quick energy boost.
- Got the munchies? Snack on some low-fat popcorn, baby carrots, reduced-fat snack mix, or baked potato chips.
- Have a bowl of unsweetened cereal with fresh or dried fruit for a refreshing, vitamin-rich treat.
- If you feel an urge to satisfy your sweet tooth, choose from a variety of low-fat or fat-free ice-cream treats, frozen fruit bars, or cookies. (Remember, fat free isn't calorie free!)