Healthy Snack Foods
Everyone strives to find those healthy snack foods to hold them over for their next meal without turning to the typical junk food choices that fill you up fast and leave you hungry soon after. The trick is to find meals that are high in both fiber and protein, which allows for a slower digestion. As a result, it leaves you feeling fuller longer.
Snacking is all a part of following a healthy balanced diet, however it is important to stick to low-calorie snacks and to plan them accordingly between meals. It is logical to believe that cutting calories will often leave you still feeling hungry, but with the right choices it is possible to pick foods that substitute the lack of caloric value with higher protein content. When you choose baked snacks such as potato chips, you are adding empty calories to your daily requirement instead of gaining any nutritional value. You are fooling your body that you are filling up when in reality you are eating snacks that will leave you feeling even hungrier afterwards. Oftentimes these poor chosen snacks may even have more calories than a full healthy meal.
When choosing a healthy snack food, it is important to look at the nutritional value you will be gaining from the food rather than the caloric intake. Potato chips may have a high-calorie count making you feel as though you will fill up on it, but there is no nutritional value that will keep that full feeling until your next meal. On the other hand, plain fruit may look appealing because of its’ low calorie count, however it lacks the necessary protein and fiber to fill you up. The following snacks provide guiltless options for a balanced, healthy snack.
Cheese and Apple Slices Pairing low fat cheese with a fruit like an apple provides for a well balanced snack that will leave you feeling full for a longer period of time. The cheese consists of the protein, however in order to get rid of the fat intake, a reduced fat or skim-milk option is preferred. The apple consists of the fiber necessary to create a slow digesting meal that keeps the stomach full for much longer without providing a high calorie snack. This effect will only occur with the combination of the two foods eaten together. Eating just the apple minus the imperative protein from the cheese will leave you searching for more food faster.
Yogurt and Berries This snack is perfect for a midmorning option. Again, the fat-free option of yogurt is necessary to keep the fat intake at a minimum. For a one cup serving, yogurt provides around 100 calories and 8 grams of protein which aid in keeping the digestion process slower. In addition, mix in 1 1/4 cup of strawberries which has approximately 3 grams of fiber.
Hummus and Veggies Hummus is a quick and easy snack that can be homemade or store-bought from your local market. It is a dip made from garbanzo beans with olive oil, garlic, and seasoning. Many stores now offer a wide variety of flavored hummus’ for your own preferences. If you enjoy spicy flavors, check out this quick and easy recipe for Jalapeno Hummus. An average 1/3 cup serving of hummus provides around 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and loads of flavor for a tasty, filling snack! Combined with your favorite veggies this makes the perfect afternoon snack to hold you over until dinner. Cucumber slices, carrots, celery, and juilienne peppers are just a few of the many options that you can choose to dip. Not only are they tasty, but on average they add about 3 more grams of fiber to the snack in every 1 cup serving.
Here are a few last tips for choosing healthy snacks to leave you feeling fuller longer:
• Eat more low density foods: Calorie density means the amount of calories per gram of food. When you choose foods with a high calorie density, you’ll be consuming foods with many calories to fill your belly, but it you opt for low density foods instead, you can fill your belly up on a smaller amount of calories. This is because low density foods contain more water without adding calories. A few options are leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, fruits and non-starchy veggies.
• Eat more nuts: Nuts are a great source of both protein and fiber. They provide nutritional value, however you must be conscious to consume a small amount because they are a high density food. Here’s a trick to keep in mind: one serving of nuts is about the size of a golf ball! Some options include almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts.
• Drink more water: Many people forget to take into account the calories they intake in the drinks they choose. Instead, aim for drinking about 8 cups of water per day. This will help train yourself to reach for water instead of food to eat out of boredom.
And lastly, slow down and savor every bite of your meal! It takes on average 20 minutes for your brain to register the food that it has consumed. Instead of consuming large amounts in a short period of time, you will feel the same fullness if you slow down and eat less. Give your brain time to realize what food it has eaten and then decide if it was enough. Keeping these tips in mind will leave you feeling fuller longer, and provide you with enough energy to fulfill your daily activities!