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Five Steps for Smart Snacking

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Fruit in a glass container.

Snacks, when properly planned, can be an added source of nutrient-dense foods to help you power through the day. Snacks are a great way to sneak in extra servings of fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy and/or whole grains containing fiber. 

What are the key ingredients of a great snack? Start with a high-fiber carbohydrate food such as a piece of fruit or whole wheat crackers. Next, add a healthy protein or fat such as nuts/nut butters, low-fat cheese or yogurt and turkey breast. If possible, add a low-calorie vegetable, too!

Follow these five steps for power snacking:

  1. Plan ahead. Healthy snacks often take a little extra time and effort so plan accordingly. Add some healthy snack options to your weekly shopping list. Buy items in bulk and divide into single-serve containers to easily grab and go. 
     
  2. Be mindful. Put away distractions while you enjoy your snack. When you are distracted by your phone or TV, you are more likely to be inattentive to your internal signals of hunger and fullness. Mindful eating allows for a more enjoyable and satisfying snack.
     
  3. Eat a balanced snack. You often hear about eating a balanced meal but you rarely hear someone talking about eating a balanced snack. It is just as important to incorporate a lean protein, healthy fat, high-fiber carbohydrates and colorful fruits and veggies into your snacks.
     
  4. Keep snacks at hand. Never leave home without a snack! Keep non-perishables such as nuts, dried fruit or whole grain crackers in your car, desk, office or purse.
     
  5. Eat in moderation. Snacks should average between 150-200 calories to be most effective at keeping your hunger at bay until your next regular meal. It’s okay if you get off track every now and then, just get back into the swing of things the next day.

Try a few of these snack ideas:

  • 1 small (45 g) whole wheat tortilla with 2 Tbsp. hummus and slices of fresh vegetables such as red pepper, cucumber or spinach leaves
  • 1 small piece of fruit with 1 low-fat string cheese
  • 5 reduced-fat Triscuits® or similar whole grain cracker with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes with ½ cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 10 baby carrots with 10 almonds
  • 6 oz. non-fat flavored Greek yogurt with ½ cup fresh blueberries and 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 medium apple with 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 serving (about 43 g) dry-roasted soybeans
  • Super Berry Green Tea Smoothie

Let snacks be one of your tools to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Plan ahead and get snacking!

To schedule a one-on-one consultation with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to build a healthy eating program or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

Article provided by Traci Sheahan, MA, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition.