Snacks have earned a negative reputation due to potato chips, candy bars, and other junk foods. However, eating snacks may actually be helpful as long as you are consuming more wholesome alternatives. Healthy snacking between meals helps you pack in more nutrients into your diet; it also keeps your hunger in check so you don’t scarf down a meal so fast (this often leads to over-eating) and fail to really savor what you are eating.
Depending on your calorie needs, you may need one to three snacks a day. Have a snack when you have gone four to five hours without eating; if you find yourself hungry at a specific time each day — barring the actual times when you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner — then it may also be a good time to fit in a healthy snack.
With all that being said, here are five healthy snacking options to curb your hunger and satisfy your cravings.
If you aren’t careful with what you put in your smoothies, you can actually gain weight from them. For a healthy, delicious, and filling snack, make smoothies from fresh fruits instead of fruit juices. This adds more fiber and cuts down on the added sugars. Any fruit you prefer will do, although the most popular ones are mangoes, bananas, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries.
You can also make your fruit smoothie even healthier by using plant-based milk products instead of dairy to cut back more calories. The most popular dairy alternative for all kinds of smoothies is almond nut milk, but you can also try other plant milks like those made from oats, rice, and other kinds of nuts.
Microwave popcorn has given this healthy snack a bad rap. In truth, popcorn is actually high in fiber, protein, potassium, and carbohydrates. Pop your own popcorn at home using a big enough pan or pot with a tight lid. This way, you have more options for flavors and you can control how much fat and sugar you add to your snack. Salt and butter remain the most popular flavorings for homemade popcorn, but you can also try cinnamon, chopped herbs, chili powder, and grated cheese just to name a few.
Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are extremely filling to boot due to their fiber content. You can definitely snack on fresh fruits if you want, but dried fruits are more portable, which makes bringing these healthy munchies to work or school more convenient. You can also combine dried fruits with other food items like nuts and cocoa chips for a dose of extra protein and flavonoids. Look for dried fruits that don’t have any added sugars to ensure that you don’t unintentionally consume more calories.
Healthy eating and snacking doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of treats. And besides, chocolates only become unhealthy due to the added milk and sugars that drown out the nutritional value of cocoa. For a healthier treat, you should get dark chocolates that have a cocoa percentage of 60 or more, so your body enjoys more of its health benefits like improved circulation and antioxidative properties. To make sure that the calories and sugar don’t end up on your waistline, don’t consume more than 3 ounces — that’s about one half cup — of dark chocolate per day.
This savory dip made from chickpeas, garlic, and olive oil is full of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and antioxidants, making it an extremely filling and nutritious snack. You can partner hummus with vegetable sticks like carrots and cucumbers, which in themselves are nutritious. Hummus can also be used as a delicious bread spread. To switch up flavors, you can add other healthy ingredients like avocado, chili peppers, and a variety of herbs.
When it comes to losing weight and staying healthy, snacking is not the enemy but rather unhealthy things we eat. So instead of grabbing that bag of chips, why don’t you munch on these healthful options instead and transform your snacking experience.