Snacks are an essential part of healthy eating. I will be sharing five ideas for a healthy snack in this article. Healthy snacks can be used to provide vital nutrients if used correctly. They can also count towards meeting the daily recommendation for fruit and vegetables.
There are several schools of thoughts regarding the intake of snack. These include but not limited to the following:
- Don’t eat a snack between meals
- Eat snacks between meals
- Don’t eat snacks after dinner if you are trying to lose weight
- You can eat a little snack at bedtime to prevent hunger pang in the night.
While none of these is absolutely right or wrong, it is advisable that you do what works for you in terms of your dietary options such as the sugar levels, gluten-free, strictly vegan, milk-free etc. The golden rule is that your snack intake should be a healthy one. Whole-food-based snacks are best and that is what I like to recommend. They should be unprocessed and unrefined or minimally processed. Whole-food-based snacks are often rich in fibre which keeps you full, contain unrefined carbohydrate to supply you with energy and contain loads of vitamins and nutrients. Also, there are processed snack options that are available on the go and helpful for the convenience. They can be used to supplement the whole-food-based snacks.
The timing for snacks also depends on you; however, I personally like to give my system a good amount of time to rest from digestion activities. I enjoy feeling light. The frequent intake of water helps to keep me feeling full and refreshed. I have come to realize that this strategy helps a lot. The strategy is consistent with the principle of intermittent fasting which has been shown to provide the body with lots of health benefits. Lest I digress from the object of the discussion here, see the benefits of drinking water and intermittent fasting in my eBook on a practical guide for a sustainable weight loss. You can snack anytime, snacking at night can be good for you as long as you keep your snack light and not too close to bedtime
If you want to avoid hunger between meals, I will recommend that you snack on food selections that provide you with a healthy amount of protein and nutrients. Make your portion moderate; therefore, snacks with 200 calories or less are considered suitable options. Snacks that are high in fibre will help you to feel full, helping you to control your appetite for your next meal. If sugar intake is not an absolute no for you, a snack with not more than 10 grams of sugar will provide you with the needed satisfaction without leaving you with any guilt feeling.
The five ideas for a healthy snack discussed here are suitable for all, including school children, young people, adult men and women.
1. Seasonal fruits make great Ideas for a Healthy Snack
I like to go the natural way, and this will be my first suggestion for a healthy snack. You don’t have to go looking for fruits that are out of your reach. Go with the fruits in season. Examples are one medium-sized apple, pear, mango, banana, artichoke, peach, orange, ¾ cup grapes, cubed pawpaw, cubed pineapple, 3 small-sized apricots, plums, prunes, nectarine, tangerine, 1 cup cubed watermelon and more. Note that your snack intake should be moderate, hence the suggested amount indicated here. The fact that fruits are natural doesn’t mean they should be eaten without limit. They contain sugar and if taken in excessive amount can result in taking more calories than needed thereby placing you at risk for overweight.
2. Vegetables as good ideas for a healthy snack
Just like fruits, vegetables can be eaten in their natural fresh form or lightly heat processed. They are great and healthy options for healthy snacks. Unlike fruits, vegetables have the added benefits of not high in simple sugars, but with a good amount of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients all of which are of great benefit to human health. Good examples are 2 cups cubed cucumber, 1 cup sliced carrot, 6 spears asparagus, ½ cup sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, green peas, butternut and many more.
3. A variety of nuts makes a good snack
Nuts are delicious and healthy and they are great ways to snack options. They are relatively economical, easy to store and easy to pack when you’re on the go. They may be taken raw or lightly toasted. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals with many great health benefits. For example, walnut has a neuroprotective compound that supports brain health. However, one shortcoming to eating nuts is that they are high in calories due to the high-fat content. Therefore, it is vital to limit the portions. Options for nuts include 15 halves of walnuts, 12 almonds, 10 cashew nuts, 3 tablespoons of peanuts and 9 pecans. The calories provided by these portions are less than 200.
4. Seeds are super good too
Like nuts, seeds are very beneficial to health. They are rich in unsaturated fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Also, because seeds are high in fat they should be eaten in moderation. 3 tablespoons of seed mix provide 145 calories. Examples are flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed and more. Seeds are usually available as a mixture of seeds or sometimes in combination with dried fruits and nuts. It is advisable that you purchase a mixture of seeds only or better still, purchase separate seeds that you desire and combine as you like. You can always create your snack from a variety of this natural goodness and benefit from the loads of health benefits they provide.
5. Combination of foods
Be creative; skilfully combine foods to produce a variety of snacks. For example, a combination of fruits with milk and a few nuts blended into a delicious and healthy smoothie. Note that the golden rule here is still moderation. A 250 ml cup of smoothie serves as a good snack. How about baked squash stuffed sweet pepper? What about oven-toasted homemade tortilla? The list is endless. By combining foods, you explore the possibilities there are and increase your chances for a variety of healthy snacks. I like to experiment with foods and I do that a lot. Each time I come up with new snack ideas.
I hope you will find the ideas for a healthy snack shared in this post helpful to improve your snack intake and that of your family. There is a lot that you can do to create varieties from whole foods. The bottom line is that your snack should be healthy, and moderate in portion size. Perhaps you would like to share your ideas creating some healthy snacks, I will be glad to read from you in the comment section.