Benefits of eating healthy snacks

Snacks for adults

If you are not sure if a snack is healthy, read the Nutrition Facts label. An updated Nutrition Facts label, which will begin appearing on products in 2018, provides more information on serving sizes and added sugars.

Pay attention to the portion size given on the label. It is easy to eat more than this amount. Never eat straight from the bag, always portion out an appropriate serving and put the container away before you start snacking. Avoid snacks that list sugar as one the first few ingredients. Nuts are a healthy snack, but the portion size is small and if you snack straight from the bag, it is very easy to eat too many calories.

Other factors to think about:

  • The size of the snack should be the right size, a good balance between enough calories to satisfy you, but still not too many to promote unwanted weight gain.
  • Pick foods that are low in added fat and sugar and high in fiber and water. This means an apple is a healthier snack than a bag of chips.
  • Aim for fruits, vegetables, whole-grain snacks, and low-fat dairy.
  • Limit foods and drinks that contain added sugar.
  • Fresh fruit is a healthier choice than a fruit-flavored drink. Foods and drinks that list sugar or corn syrup as one of the first ingredients are not healthy snack choices.
  • Pairing protein and carbohydrate will help the snack to keep you fullest for the longest. Examples include having apple and string cheese, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or plain yogurt and fresh fruit.

Snacks

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Smart Snacking

“Don’t eat that, you’ll spoil your appetite.” If only you had a dollar for every time you heard that growing up.

But if the right foods are offered at the right times, snacks can play an important role in managing kids’ hunger and boosting nutrition. A well-timed snack can even out spikes in hunger and provide a much-needed energy boost between meals.

Snacks can keep younger children from getting so hungry that they become cranky, and they can keep older kids from overeating at larger meals. And for picky eaters of all ages, snacks can be added insurance that they’re getting the necessary nutrients.

This doesn’t mean that giving your child a cupcake half an hour before dinner is suddenly a good idea. The best snacks are nutritious — low in sugar, fat, and salt. Fresh fruit and vegetables and foods that contain whole grains and protein are also good choices.

But it’s not just about what you offer as a snack — it’s how much you serve and when. Pay attention to portion sizes and timing of snacks so they don’t interfere with a child’s appetite for the next scheduled meal.

Kids who are allowed to graze all day long often have a hard time figuring out when they’re truly hungry — one key to maintaining a healthy weight in childhood and later in life. A structured meal and snack schedule is one solution. You offer the meals and snacks at the same times each day, and your kids can decide what they want to eat and how much.

Snacks and Toddlers

Toddlers may not eat much at a sitting and they often get hungry before the next meal. At this age, kids may need to eat five or six times a day — three meals and two to three snacks.

There are two common “snack pitfalls” to avoid with toddlers because once done, they can be hard to undo:

  1. using sweets to reward good behavior, which sends the message that desserts are somehow better or more valuable than other foods, and can start a pattern of unhealthy eating
  2. pacifying kids with a snack just before a meal, which can decrease their hunger and make them less willing to try new foods at the table

Scheduled snacks served at the same times every day give kids a sense of control and also establish that snacks are available only at certain times. Offer two or three nutritious options and let kids choose. Try:

  • low-sugar, whole-grain breakfast cereals
  • cut-up fruit (if pieces are small and soft enough to avoid choking)
  • graham crackers
  • cheese slices cut into fun shapes
  • applesauce
  • yogurt

Snacks and Preschoolers

Control is still a key issue at this age, so preschoolers also might enjoy the chance to choose their snack from the options you present. The desire for sweets can be quite strong at this age, but you can avoid the struggles. Don’t offer candy and cookies at snack time. You can decide not to stock them at all or, if you do, to keep them out of sight.

Preschoolers are just learning to label their feelings, and they’ll often say “I’m hungry.” But they could just be bored, tired, or in need of some attention. Figure out what your child really needs. It may be that some playtime with you or a change of scenery could end the cries of “I’m hungry.” Also, when kids do need a snack, make sure it’s eaten at the table and not in front of the TV.

Healthy snacks for preschoolers include:

  • cut-up fruit or applesauce
  • yogurt
  • sliced or chopped veggies
  • whole-grain crackers topped with cheese

Snacks and School-Age Kids

With homework, activities, lessons, and sports, school-age kids are busier, and probably more independent, than ever. Some may still need three meals and two snacks per day — usually one mid-morning and one after school.

But the morning snack could become unnecessary depending on lunchtime at school and as kids get older. Talk with your kids to find out.

Unless you have an especially early dinner time, most kids still need an after-school snack to help them stay focused on homework and other after-school commitments. Try to pack healthy snacks for after-school activities of kids who aren’t coming right home.

Kids who come straight home after school probably can start fixing their own snacks (with permission, of course). Leave things in the fridge that can be grabbed quickly — veggie sticks and dips, yogurt and berries. If you’re serving fruit or a salad with dinner, consider letting kids eat that early to take the edge off.

School-age kids are capable of understanding why it’s important to eat healthy, but more than ever they look to the people they love as role models. Make healthy snacking a family affair and your kids will take it to heart.

Here are some snacks that school-age kids might enjoy:

  • low-sugar, whole-grain breakfast cereal with low-fat milk
  • low-fat string cheese
  • fruit smoothies made with low-fat milk or yogurt
  • nuts and raisins
  • whole-wheat pita slices, cut-up veggies, and hummus
  • whole-grain pretzels
  • fruit slices dipped in low-fat flavored yogurt

Snacks and Teens

Teens might still need a snack or two during the day, but what they eat may seem out of your control. Your teen might have sports, a job, an ever-expanding social calendar, money to spend, and car keys. With this much independence, you can’t police what your teen eats, but you can encourage healthy snacking by keeping nutritious foods at home that your teen can take along.

Healthy snacks for teens include:

  • veggie sticks with low-fat ranch dip or hummus
  • low-fat granola bars
  • fresh or dried fruit
  • trail mix
  • air-popped popcorn
  • hard-boiled eggs

Snacking well can be a challenge, especially once kids are old enough to make independent food choices. But if you’ve set the stage right from the start — offering mostly nutritious choices at home and encouraging good alternatives when away — they’re more likely to reach for something healthy when a hunger pang strikes.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD Date reviewed: July 2015

September 2010 Issue

On Track With a Snack
By Lindsey Getz
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 12 No. 9 P. 32

Mindful munching between meals can help control cravings and promote portion control. Help clients take a healthful bite out of hunger with these handy hints.

Many of your clients might be surprised to learn they can snack their way to better health. Snacking has long been associated with weight gain and unhealthful eating habits. Of course, there is good reason for that. Research recently published in Health Affairs suggested that snacking may be largely to blame for the childhood obesity epidemic. American kids snack on junk foods three times per day, accounting for more than 27% of their daily caloric intake.

However, the problem may not be the act of snacking but what kids are munching on. The study showed that children are more likely to eat candy, chips, and crackers than fruits and vegetables. While these types of snacks can be detrimental to nutritious eating, healthful snacking can be beneficial to both children and adults.

In fact, says Melissa Davidson, MS, RD, CD, owner of Davidson Nutrition, PLLC, which provides counseling and consultation in the Seattle area, healthful snacking offers a number of benefits: more energy, increased mental clarity, fewer cravings for junk foods, and an overall feeling of well-being. “This is because a balanced snack will help keep blood sugar in an optimal range,” she says. “Every time we eat, our blood sugar goes up. As we use the energy to run, jump, think, and blink, our blood sugar starts to come down. Low blood sugar contributes to the experience of a ‘brain fog,’ plus low energy and a tendency toward cravings for sugary foods. But a balanced snack helps keep blood sugar from dropping too low between meals.”

Healthful snacking is a great way to manage hunger and keep appetite in check, says North Carolina-based dietitian Julie Whittington, MS, RD, LDN. “I encourage consumers to never go longer than three or four hours without eating,” she says. “Our bodies prefer to have smaller, more frequent meals during the day rather than fewer large meals. This includes eating in the morning. Unfortunately, many people skip breakfast and end up hungrier and eating more in the day than they would if they had actually eaten breakfast.”

That’s exactly what researchers from the Imperial College of London found and presented at last year’s Endocrine Society annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Skipping breakfast can lead to higher-calorie cravings later, including snacking on junk foods. The researchers say their results support the long-touted idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Davidson agrees that many of her clients skip breakfast, which may lead to unhealthful snacking or eating larger meals later in the day. “A common eating pattern in the U.S. is to have minimal or no breakfast, possibly skip lunch, or just grab some vending machine junk food to get through the workday, then have a large dinner at night, with constant snacking until bedtime,” she says. “If this pattern is identified, I often encourage weaving in a balanced whole foods-based breakfast. Lunch and daytime snacks also help a client ‘front load’ their day with calories and nutrition. This helps them to get the nutrition they need so that they don’t find themselves in a craving state by nighttime.”

It’s also important to recognize that eating healthful snacks throughout the day can help ensure more healthful mealtimes. If clients fill up on healthful foods during snack time, they may eat more reasonably portioned meals. “If you were to only eat three meals a day, most of us would need to consume calorie-dense meals in order to eat enough calories in a day to maintain our energy,” says Davidson.

In addition to helping people stay full longer and promoting more healthful and smaller meals, snacking can also provide additional nutrients that clients may not obtain during meals, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson and director of wellness coaching at the Cleveland Clinic. “For example, a great way to get additional veggies in, which is always a challenge for folks, is to eat them as snacks,” she says. “Fresh and frozen vegetables add additional vitamin A, C, K, folacin, potassium, and fiber to the diet. I always encourage my clients to snack on a rainbow of veggies: red, green, yellow, and orange peppers; carrots; a small spinach salad; broccoli; and cauliflower. This is also a great way to add anticancer foods to the diet.”

Snacking Around the Clock
When it comes to morning, afternoon, and evening snacks, there is no evidence that certain snacks are better for certain times of day, says Davidson. What works varies with the individual. For instance, a small, healthful muffin may seem to be a more appropriate snack in the early hours of the day, while air-popped popcorn may seem to be an ideal evening snack. But clients could find the most benefit from planning snacks according to their daily schedule.

“The foods you choose need to fuel your body’s ability to meet each day’s activities optimally,” says Davidson. “If you have more activity going on in the AM and/or a longer stretch between meals coming up, you may want a heartier snack at that time. If your next meal isn’t far off, you may just need a light snack to hold you off until the meal comes.”

Which healthful snacks to choose will depend largely on individual taste preferences. (See “Snack Attack” sidebar for specific examples.) “Snacks should really be based on what’s right for you,” adds Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, a culinary and nutrition expert. “There’s no right or wrong in terms of when to eat a specific snack. If you like smooth, creamy textures, you might be a pita-bread-and-hummus kind of person, and it will taste good morning, noon, or night. If crunch appeals to you, apples and peanut butter might be your thing.”

Some great morning snacks include a whole grain muffin with trans fat-free peanut butter, an apple and string cheese, and nonfat Greek yogurt with berries, suggests Jamieson-Petonic. An afternoon snack might be peppers and hummus or some veggies and dip. And after-dinner snacks might include apples with peanut butter, whole grain pretzels with mustard, and whole grain crackers with low-fat cheese. “But with all snacks, including these, the key is monitoring portion sizes,” advises Jamieson-Petonic. “For example, 1 to 2 tablespoons of hummus—not the whole container—is a serving. Clients need to remember this is a snack, and it’s a way to complement a meal. It’s not meant to have as many calories as an entire meal.”

Dessert can even fit into a balanced diet, says Whittington, who herself confesses a love for sweet treats. “The key is portion control and frequency,” she says. “Opt for the chocolate cake and pastries only on a special occasion and meet your sweet tooth more regularly with foods that provide some nutritious ingredients. If you are a person has dessert every day, make it something like berries and a small piece of dark chocolate. Occasionally have things like homemade natural pudding, natural ice cream, or fruit parfaits.”

Educating Clients
Snacking is an area where most clients need much guidance because it can easily get out of control or be unhealthful. Arm your clients with tips that will help them snack smart. For instance, suggest that they always portion out their snacks in advance. Instead of sitting down with an entire box of whole grain crackers, they should portion out one serving size and put it in a separate bowl. People can easily lose track of how many crackers they have eaten when they have a whole box in front of them.

In addition, recent research shows that when consumers eat an organic snack, they often underestimate the calories and eat more of it than they otherwise would have. Researchers from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that when people ate cookies labeled as “organic,” they believed their snack contained 40% fewer calories than the same cookies that were unlabeled. It’s important that clients recognize healthful snacks still have calories and portion control is still critical.

Plotkin says snacking is an area where dietitians can help teach clients how to look at ingredients and read nutrition labels. “For instance, there are plenty of great energy bars out there that have excellent nutritional profiles, such as Luna Bars,” she says. “But when the patient stands in front of hundreds of bars in the store, it can be overwhelming, which can inadvertently lead to the unhealthier choice.”

In addition, teaching clients what to avoid or limit is as much a part of healthy snack education as advising them on what to eat. Davidson recommends choosing anything high in empty calories, such as pastries, donuts, cookies, cakes, potato chips, candy, and sugary beverages (soda or dessertlike coffee drinks), less frequently, if ever. But recognize that clients may be more successful if they allow themselves the very occasional indulgence than if they try to forgo these foods altogether.

Davidson also advises clients to avoid items with ingredients they couldn’t find in their own kitchen—”or mom’s kitchen,” she adds. “To quote Michael Pollan, I tell clients, ‘If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.’”

You also can advise clients to take a closer look at their television-viewing habits. “It’s important to consider research that indicates children and adults reach for more nonnutritious snacks when watching TV due to the volume of junk food ads that they will see,” says Davidson. “Therefore, it’s a great idea to have healthy snacks planned for those times and to even consider turning off your TV during commercials.”

Also consider taking a few extra steps to encourage your clients to eat more healthful snacks—for one, offer healthful snacks in the office. “Spend some administrative time or create an intern project to go to product websites and order free samples for professionals,” suggests Plotkin. “It’s a great way for you to sample these foods yourself and to offer samples to your patients.” Plotkin also says many food products offer coupons on their websites or through social media outlets. Dietitians can print these to offer to clients or even link to them through their own website or social media page.

The bottom line is that with a little bit of guidance and the right education, clients can be well on their way to more beneficial snacking.

— Lindsey Getz is a freelance writer based in Royersford, Pa.

Snack Attack
We asked a few dietitians which healthful snacks they suggest to their clients, both young and older. The following is a list of their ideas, some of which you might consider passing along to your clients should a snack attack strike.

Julie Whittington, MS, RD, LDN
“When seeking healthful snacks, the possibilities are endless. Ideally, snacks should be a good balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. This way you achieve the maximum from the snack.” Whittington suggests the following:

• Soy chips and fresh salsa (eg, corn and black bean)
• Trail mix with whole grain cereal and dried fruit and nuts
• Natural fruit and nut bars (eg, LaraBar)
• Seitan jerky (vegetarian beef jerky)
• String cheese and carrots
• Natural fruit leathers (eg, FruitaBu, Clif Kid Twisted Fruit, Stretch Island Fruit Company)
• Turkey and bell pepper roll-ups
• Greek yogurt and granola (eg, Bear Naked Fit)
• Fruit with optional nut butter or nuts

Melissa Davidson, MS, RD, CD
“A balanced snack is a natural food high in protein plus a natural food high in fiber.” Davidson recommends the following:

• Organic cheese stick plus bell pepper slices
• Tuna salad plus whole-wheat bread (1/2 sandwich)
• Freshly ground peanut butter plus apple slices
• Hummus plus carrot sticks
• 1/4 cup almonds plus a banana
• Plain organic yogurt plus fresh berries

Amy Cartwright, MS, RD, LDN
“Snacks should be filled with as many nutrients as possible. Fiber keeps us fuller longer, helps improve blood glucose control, and keeps our digestive system regular. And snacks that contain carbohydrates and protein maintain our appetite and energy longer.” Cartwright advises trying the following:

• 1 medium piece of fruit and a cheese stick
• 1 T of peanut butter and whole-wheat crackers
• 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and fruit
• Veggie sticks and low-fat dip
• 1 handful of almonds and a medium piece of fruit
• Baked tortilla chips and salsa

Every day at 3:00 I stand outside my 6-year-old’s school waiting for him to bounce out of the building and ask the inevitable: “Can I have a snack?”

His eyes dart from the nearby ice cream truck to the street cart selling churros (yes, churros) to the cotton candy stand on the corner. Given those options, it’s no wonder snacking has become a negative word for this generation. High-sugar, empty-carb, mindless munchies only add to the childhood obesity rates that have more than doubled in the last 30 years.

But that doesn’t mean you need to banish between-meal noshes. In fact, “snacks get a bad rap, but growing kids need to refuel every four hours or so to keep their energy stores up,” says Jessica Crandall, R.D., a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The problem isn’t snacking: It’s what kids are snacking on. “Fruits or vegetables are good, but only a small number of kids snack on healthy food,” says Barry Popkin, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In fact, his recent study found that kids consume 600 calories a day from snacks, which is more than another meal.

And schools aren’t helping. My son’s cafeteria, for one, offers an ice cream station twice a week. Others have vending machines stocked with junk, which are (for now) exempt from federal nutrition standards. Just how big a difference would healthier options make? A study in Pediatrics found that when schools restrict vending machine choices, the average Body Mass Index of students decreases significantly — not because kids stopped snacking but because they chose healthier options.

Supporting this idea, researchers found that kids who eat frequently are 22 percent less likely to be overweight than peers who stick to three squares. The all-day noshers snacked on healthy foods, filling them up for substantially fewer calories than a large meal.

While this is potentially good news for moms who want to appease hungry monsters at the end of the day, it also raises more questions. I usually counter my son’s pleas for ice cream with pretzels and dried apricots. I think they’re healthy, but are they really? What constitutes a nutritionally sound snack, anyway? In search of ideas, I asked Crandall; Rachel Meltzer Warren, R.D.; and Maryann Jacobsen, R.D., co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School — all fellow moms — to develop a go-to snacking guide you can rely on.

Follow these four tips for creating the ultimate answer to “Mooom, I’m hungry!”:

  1. Keep It Simple “You don’t need to hit every vitamin and mineral in order for a snack to be healthy,” says Meltzer Warren. It’s about the big picture, not micromanaging calories or specific ingredients, agrees Jacobsen. “As a general rule, I recommend shooting for a snack that includes two to three food groups: protein, dairy, fruit, veggies, whole grains, or healthy fats,” she says.
  2. Go for Combos Kids eat up to 72 percent fewer calories when given a cheese-and-veggie snack versus a pile of potato chips, according to a study in Pediatrics. “The cheese and vegetables together are more satisfying,” says study co-author Mitsuru Shimizu, Ph.D. “Also, a combo of foods is less boring than a handful of chips, so kids will eat less over the same amount of time.”
  3. Add a Cool Factor When offering a snack, ask your child what his favorite superhero would eat. When 6- to 12-year-olds were asked to imagine the snack choice of Batman or Spider-man, then asked to make their own snack choice, 45 percent chose apple slices over French fries, lowering their calorie intake by 193 calories. (Brussels sprouts and broccoli are hereby dubbed Hulk smashers!)
  4. Serve It Up on Kid-Size Plates It’s no great surprise, but when first-graders used smaller dishware, they served themselves smaller portions, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. When kids used adult-size dishes, they took an average of 90 additional food calories. (Watching your own waistline? Go ahead and follow your child’s lead and eat off her dishware instead!)

Plus: How to tell if they really need a nosh:

  • Hunger: “Look for irritability and low energy levels. And ask if your child’s stomach is growling,” says Crandall. Also, do the math. Most kids need to eat every four hours.
  • Habit: If she seems generally distracted or antsy, offer water first. Sometimes having a drink serves up enough activity for a restless child. To make H2O more appealing, add lemon or orange slices or drop in ice cubes containing real fruit. Fruity herbal tea is great, too.

Plus: Get 10 healthy after-school snack ideas

7 ways to snack smarter

It’s a great idea to choose snacks wisely. But many foods that seem to be of great nutritional value just aren’t. For example, bran muffins and cereal bars can be packed with unhealthy fats and added sugar. Even “fat-free” foods often contain lots of added salt and sugar.

Here are 7 tips for smarter snacking.

  1. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks can give you some energy with staying power. Try some whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips, or a serving of high-fiber cereals.
  2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack.
  3. Try a “high-low” combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
  4. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.
  5. The combo snack. Try to have more than just one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Or try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrate) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
  6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else — like surfing the Internet, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
  7. Take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

To learn how to create week-by-week action plans, and to get our weight control tips and recipes, buy the 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: ©a_namenko | Getty Images

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Healthy Snacks

Just like a car needs gasoline to run well, our bodies need proper nutrition to function optimally, especially if it is growing and developing rapidly. If you don’t put the right fuel in a car, eventually it will stop working.

If you put only junk food in growing bodies, eventually they will become unhealthy and overweight. For optimum health, three meals plus two healthy snacks per day is necessary.

Snacking is important for children because their smaller stomachs fill up fast and they burn energy quickly. Between meals, snacks give their growing bodies the nutrients and hydration they need.
Younger children will need a morning and afternoon snack. The older school-aged child will not have the option to snack between breakfastand lunch, but and can have a larger snack after school.
As a rule, it is best to offer a vegetable or fruit as the main snack item alongside some whole grain, milk, or protein option.

Studies show that snacks contribute over 20% of the daily energy intake of children. The Institute of Medicine Committee on Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools recommends that 9% of total calories for school age children be devoted to snacks. Taking both of these into account, it is best to limit each of the two snacks to 100 calories each.

If your child needs more calories and eats enough at meal times, you can offer more. If your child has a weight issue, the fruit or vegetable will be enough. For exact amounts, go to mypyramid.org or check with your physician or nutritionist.
Snack time should not be perceived as a time to eat junk food; cookies, cake, and chips for example. We can thank the advertisers for most of the misinformation as to what makes a healthy snack.
It is also easy for the busy parent to reach for these junk food items as no preparation is needed and we know our children will eat them.
Being prepared is very helpful; cutting up veggie sticks the night before or making whole grain muffins and freezing them on the weekends ensures that a healthful option is always on hand. Keep fruit and vegetables washed and cut up so it is easy for your child to help him/herself.
When it comes to salty, sweet or fatty options, limit the amount you offer; try not to let your child take what they want. Adults have a hard time limiting the amount of sweet and savory snacks they eat so we should not expect our children to restrain themselves either.
Children need to be taught what the right amount is for their bodies. Remember, you are teaching them information about healthy eating that they will have for the rest of their lives.
Don’t count on them to learn it outside the home.
Examples of healthful snack items are listed below.
• Veggie sticks with hummus
• Yogurt topped with berries or favorite fruit
• Cheese stick and apple
• Tortilla chips with salsa
• Whole grain crackers with cut up veggies or fruit
• Veggie or fruit muffins made with whole grains
• 1⁄2 slice of banana bread with veggies
• Celery sticks plus 1 TBL nut butter
• Trail mix: Nuts, cereal, dried fruit, and/or chocolate chips (watch the calories with the nuts)
• Fruit kebobs dipped in yogurt
• 1⁄2 slice of whole grain bread spread with 1⁄2 TBL sunflower seed butter (or other nut butters) and sliced bananas or apples
• Smoothies: Mix in a blender milk (1⁄2 cup skim), fruit (1⁄2 cup strawberries) and yogurt (2 oz). Kids love them frozen, too.
Print out this list and have your child choose 1 item from each column. Giving your child a sense of power over the selection is important and goes a long way towards teaching them how to eat healthfully.
Remember that you are teaching them a skill necessary to live healthy lives.


SNACK = 1 FRUIT OR 1 VEGETABLE SERVING + 1⁄2 CUP MILK OR 1 OZ MEAT/BEAN OR 1 OZ WHOLE GRAIN SERVING

FRUIT & VEGGIE GRAINS & MEAT
1 small apple 1⁄2 homemade whole grain muffin
1⁄2 cup grapes 1⁄2 slice banana bread
1⁄2 cup blueberries 10 baked light tortilla chips
1⁄2 cup strawberries 31 grams
1 orange Eggplant
1 peach 29 grams
1⁄2 cup cantaloupe 3 Nabisco Triscuit Crackers Baked Whole Grain Original
1⁄2 cup honeydew melon1⁄2 cup honeydew melon 6 Regular Whole Wheat crackers
1/8-cup raisins Whole wheat bread 1 slice
1 small pear Small 4” pita bread
1 small banana (up to 6 inches) Other whole grain serving approximately 50 calories
1⁄2 cup applesauce unsweetened 1⁄2 cup low fat or fat free milk
1⁄2 cup fruit cup unsweetened 1 oz low fat cheese stick or slice
1⁄2 cup fruit cup fruit juice sweetened 1⁄2 plain nonfat yogurt (3 oz)
1⁄2 cup mandarin oranges in fruit juice 2 TBL hummus
1⁄2 cup pineapple slices without the juice 1 boiled egg
2 TBL hummus 1⁄2 TBL nut butter
1⁄2 cup raw carrots, or baby carrots 1 oz meat, 1 sandwich slice turkey or ham
1⁄2 cup chopped celery 1⁄2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1⁄2 cup green or red bell peppers Nuts: 8 almonds (56 calories) or 5 walnut halves
1⁄2 cup broccoli Other Meat/Bean serving approximately 50 calories
1⁄2 cup cauliflower
1⁄2 cup cucumber
1⁄2 cup green beans
1⁄2 cup cherry tomatoes
1⁄2 cup asparagus spears
1⁄4 cup salsa

When selecting a snack item not on the list use the guidelines set forth by The Institute of Medicine Committee on Nutrition Standards for Foods in SchoolsFor foods, it includes only fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nonfat and low- fat dairy or a combination product as long as it has a serving of a fruit or vegetable in it.
Plus it must meet these specifications:
1. No more than 35% total calories from fat
2. Less than 10% of total calories from saturated fats
3. Zero trans fat (≤0.5 grams per serving)
4. 35% or less of calories from total sugar (exception yogurt, no more than 30 g per 8 oz)
5. 200mg or less of sodium per portion as packaged

Dr. Deb’s Bottom Line

No matter what snacking looks like in your house, take a positive step towards health by offering a fruit or vegetable at each snack

Marchis National Nutrition Month, and it’s a great time to take stock of your eating habits. Focusing your awareness on what (and when) you’re eating can be the key to making informed food choices. The benefits of healthy snacking can go a long way toward improving your overall health. Are you:

• Eating at least five cups of fruits and vegetables each day?

• Choosing lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts?

• Limiting added sugar, salt and saturated fats?

• Avoiding skipping meals?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, sensible snacking can and should be a part of your healthy eating plan — as long as you choose your snacks carefully and plan ahead. A HealthyYOU Vending machine at your school or place of business brings the benefits of healthy snacking to students and employees by providing healthy snacks throughout the day. Healthy snacking can prevent overeating, and is also a great way to supply needed nutrients that we may miss during mealtimes — especially for active kids and growing teens. Other benefits of healthy snacking during the day include:

• Reduce stress, improve focus and productivity: Healthy snacks can give anyone a boost of energy. In fact, studies show that what employees and students eat during the workday has an impact on mental acuity, energy, and overall performance.

• Better health equals a healthier bottom line: Studies show that employees who participate in wellness programs at work reported improved physical health and fewer hospital stays. Another study found that medical costs fall about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.

• Convenience: People tend to consume more of the foods that are readily available, so don’t let a lack of healthy snacks hinder access to good nutrition. An on-site healthy vending machine stocked with nutritious, organic, low-fat, low-calorie, gluten-free or kosher options provides the ultimate in convenience and healthy snacking choices.

You can start making small yet impactful changes to your health right now by incorporating simple, healthy snacking habits. Make calories count by choosing healthy snacks that provide the right kind of nutrients. Plan your healthy snacks ahead of time so you won’t be tempted by junk food when you’re bored or stressed — and only snack when you’re hungry. Practice portion control by snacking on single-size servings (another great benefit to choosing snacks from a HealthyYOU Vending machine). And be sure to stay hydrated — as we often overeat because we think we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty.

Making healthy snacking choices works best when you have convenient choices, and a HealthyYOU Vending machine provides just the healthy snack options you’re craving. Find out how to get HealthyYOU Vending at your school or workplace.

The Benefits of Integrating Healthy Snacks into Your Diet

Snacking plays an important role in maintaining a healthy diet. If you’re having trouble getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs from your main meals, healthy snacks can fill in the gaps. Snacking can help you manage hunger in between meals and keep blood sugar at proper levels. Consuming healthy snacks at the right time and in the right proportion is the key to getting the most from your snacking habits.

Unfortunately, many people defer to packaged junk food like cake, doughnuts, chips, cookies and sodas for their typical snack in between meals. Such foods have little to no nutritional value. In order to benefit from the snacks you eat, you need to think healthy. What does healthy look like? If you were to make a healthy snacks list, foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains which are rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants would definitely be on it. When you commit to eating healthy office snacks, healthy movie snacks, healthy party snacks, healthy school snacks and healthy bedtime snacks, you’re well on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Plan Your Snacks

Poor planning is one of the greatest deterrents to healthy snacking. When you don’t plan for a healthy snack, it’s easy to make unhealthy choices. Lea Crosetti Andes, registered dietitian, pretty much sums it up when she says, “One of the major problematic areas with snacks is the lack of planning. Grabbing whatever is in sight to feed the intense hunger can lead (you) to consume empty calories excessively. Planning snacks can help to assure that there is some nutritional value being consumed.”

Planning is important, whether you snack at home, in school or at the office. If you entertain often, it’s important to plan healthy snacks for your occasion. Whether you’re preparing a homemade snack or buying snacks from the store, advanced planning will help you select snack foods that have greater nutritional value.

2. Distinguish between Snacking and “Grazing”

Eating a healthy snack from time to time is one thing; continually snacking without giving much thought to what you’re eating, aka “grazing”, is another. Grazing can quickly add up to extra pounds and excess spending. By planning snacks in advance, you’ll eat a more balanced diet that includes carbs for energy, protein to satisfy hunger and fiber for better digestion. Finding the balance is key to healthy snacking. A balanced snack will leave you feeling satisfied and provide greater nourishment to the body.

3. Serve Reasonable Proportions

It’s better to eat small portions from a plate or bowl than snack directly out of a box or bag. By snacking directly from the bag, you risk overeating and gaining extra pounds. Serving small portions gives you better control over the quantity of food you consume. There’s no point planning healthy snacks for work, healthy school snacks or even healthy late night snacks if you’re going to go overboard and blow your diet.

Benefits of Snacking

Healthy snacking should provide some benefits, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Physically, healthy snacking will improve your overall health, increase energy levels and help you lose weight loss. Mentally, healthy snacks can improve concentration, increase memory and enhance mental alertness and awareness. Emotionally, yummy snacks are a source of joy and inspiration. Whether you favor healthy sweet snacks or healthy spicy snacks, you have much to gain by choosing healthy snack options.

Snacking and Kids

Healthy snacks are good for children as the extra nutrients help promote a child’s growth and development. Whether you buy prepackaged snack packs or make snacks at home, healthy kids snacks will increase your child’s vitamin, protein and calorie intake to keep him or her healthy and strong. The Internet offers a wealth of information on homemade healthy snack ideas for kids as well as ideas for healthy snacks to buy. A good snack will satisfy your child’s hunger in between meals and provide extra energy to keep him or her going all day long.

Here are a few suggestions for quick easy healthy snacks for kids that you can make at home.

Yogurt-Fruit Smoothies – Delicious and nutritious, smoothies combine the vitamin power of fresh fruit with protein rich nonfat yogurt.

Healthy baked goods – Zucchini muffins, carrot bars or sweet potato bread add more veggies to your child’s diet without compromising on taste or flavor.

Yogurt parfait – Low-fat yogurt mixed with natural granola and fresh berries makes a tasty, nourishing treat.

Peanut butter – Spread protein rich peanut butter on rice cakes or mini waffles for fun and variety.

Whole grain waffle sticks – topped with a healthy fruit jelly, whole grain waffles make a refreshing snack that will boost your child’s iron and B vitamin intake.

When it comes to healthy snacks for the classroom, healthy packaged snacks make good options. Some school systems provide healthy snacks for kids at school as part of their lunch menu. Smart parents, however, will make a list of healthy snacks before shopping to ensure they get nutritious snack options for their kids. Healthy kids school snacks can help boost children’s concentration and focus in the classroom as well as provide more energy for sports and play. Here’s a peak at some of the top 10 healthy snacks you can buy for your kids to help supplement their diet.

Snack mixes containing healthy nuts, pretzels, dried fruit and banana chips

Fresh fruit in the form of apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, peaches, etc., when in season

Low- sugar, high-fiber granola bars or granola trail mix

String cheese

Applesauce snack cups

Chocolate pecan popcorn clusters

Vanilla yogurt raisins

Fruit bars

Multi-grain pita puffs

Sea salt popcorn

Smart Snacking Strategies

Planning your children’s snack schedule takes the burden out of finding easy healthy snacks for school or home consumption. In addition to planning healthy school snacks, parents should look into healthy snack options for after school, evening study hours or right before bed. Many parents serve their young kids a healthy snack before bed to help them sleep better throughout the night. If your kids are having a slumber party, healthy night snacks can add to the fun and excitement.

Here are a few guidelines for developing strategies that will lead to smart snacking habits.

Stick with small portions so snacking doesn’t compete with main meals.

Serve snacks every 3-4 hours in between meals so as not to detract from mealtimes.

Use snacks to complement meals in adding nutritional value to your kids’ diet.

Don’t let your kids eat simply out of boredom.

Pay attention to your kids’ snacking needs, letting their hunger or lack of appetite be a guide in when to snack and when to refrain from eating.

Try not to reward or bribe your kids with food.

Always have kids healthy snacks on hand to give your children healthy choices. Take into consideration personal likes and dislikes as well as the possibility of food sensitivities and allergies.

Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss

There’s no need to avoid snacks in order to lose weight. In fact, eating healthy snacks can actually help you lose weight by stimulating your metabolism and filling you up so you eat less during meals. Healthy snacking doesn’t require spending lots of money. By shopping around, you can find a variety of cheap healthy snacks for any occasion. You can also make inexpensive and easy healthy snacks at home.

The best healthy snacks are those that are filling, nutritious and appeal to you and your family. Everyone has different tastes, so be sure to add family favorites to your healthy snacks list before you go shopping. Having a list makes it easier to get exactly what you and your kids want. Healthy kid snacks may differ from healthy snacks for teens or even what you would prefer to eat in the way of healthy easy snacks for adults.

What are some healthy snacks for weight loss? Here are some popular nutritionist approved choices.

Greek yogurt with berries and honey

Grapes and walnuts

Gluten-free whole grains bar

Wheat Crackers and cottage cheese

Mediterranean hummus platter

Cooked oatmeal with blueberries

Banana with peanut butter

Natural jerky

Low Carb Healthy Snacks

One of the best ways to lose weight is to control your appetite. A ravenous appetite can be a big hurdle to weight loss. Low carb and no carb healthy snacks that are rich in good fats will sustain you longer in between meals, giving you less of an appetite for large meal portions. Low carb, low sugar foods make great options for heart healthy snacks for people who are prone to heart problems and need to be careful with their diet.

What makes a good low carb snack? A snack that’s rich in protein, low in sugar or sugar free, low in calories and rich in healthy fats. Cheese, nuts and seeds, lean meat, eggs and fish all fall under this category. Healthy fats are those that contain the fat soluble vitamins, i.e. A, E, D and K.

The best low carb snacks are those that are readily available on the market and require little preparation. Healthy on the go snacks are always a convenience to have around. They’re portable for carrying, can be kept in a drawer or locker at school or on the job and make little to no mess when consumed. Some popular low carb foods include:

Hard boiled eggs

Nuts

Cheese

Tuna salad

Berries

Dark chocolate

Raw veggies (celery, cucumber, carrots) with cream cheese dip

Avocado

Healthy Low Calorie Snacks

Foods that are low in calories and filling make good snacks for people wanting to lose weight. Healthy filling snacks will satisfy your hunger without adding fat to your stomach. According to Cynthia Sass, registered dietician and nutrition expert for Health Magazine, “One of the biggest challenges when you’re trying to lose weight is combating hunger and the desire to eat. Foods that contain fiber, protein, and plant-based fat tend to be the most satiating.” Snacks that are rich in these nutrients help to slow down your digestion so you feel fuller longer. That full feeling will automatically prompt you to eat less at meals so you can lose weight.

Another advantage of snacking on low calorie foods is that you can consume larger portions. If you’re looking for ideas for healthy midnight snacks, try some of these low calorie favorites. They’ll satisfy your hunger without compromising your waistline.

Slow churned or double churned ice cream

Micro-wave popcorn

Mini quesadilla with corn tortilla

Apples

Cup of bean soup

Eggs

Canned salmon

Tips for Holiday Snacking

When you incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle, preparing healthy snacks will be the norm for most every occasion. This includes holiday get-togethers, birthday parties, dinner parties, summer BBQs, etc. As the seasons change, you’ll be looking for ideas for healthy Halloween snacks, healthy Superbowl snacks, healthy summer snacks, etc. If you and your family travel on vacations, you’ll appreciate the convenience of healthy roadtrip snacks or healthy prepackaged snacks to keep you happy and healthy on the road. Having tasty healthy snacks in the car makes traveling that much more enjoyable for the whole family.

How Healthy is Beef Jerky as a Snack?

Natural beef jerky contains a wide range of nutrients that can benefit the body. In addition to protein and healthy fats, natural jerky contains zinc to strengthen your immune system and good cholesterol to protect you from cardiovascular diseases. From one ounce of beef jerky, you gain approximately 12 g of protein and only consume 80 calories.

There are numerous benefits to making healthy snacks a permanent part of your diet. A healthy snacking lifestyle can change your life for the better as you reap countless health benefits both now and in the years to come.

With a busy schedule and a demanding work week, it can be difficult to maintain high energy levels. And when menial work tasks start to feel a little soul-sucking, we oftentimes feel the need to nurture ourselves with food for us to feel alive again.

Same goes with your employees, everyone needs to munch on a quick bite in order to perform better or do amazing things. In fact, surveying 100 employees and office managers, it has been found that 38% ranked office food as one of their top three office perks, alongside vacation time and professional development.

So if you’re not providing healthy snacks for your employees, you might want to consider starting after reading this article. We’ll give you 7 reasons why you should provide healthy snacks to improve your employees’ overall health, well-being, and productivity.

If you’re already on-board with healthy snacks and understand their value, check out our free guide to healthy office snacks:

First of all, what makes a healthy office snack??!

Employee healthy snacks can be anything from fresh fruits to a couple of packets of crisps. The sky’s the limit when it comes to stocking up the cupboards.

Most offices tend to stick to things like peanuts, chips, fruits, veggies & dips, and maybe even some chocolates. It all depends on who is doing the buying and what the prevailing motive is. To help you further in choosing your menu, here’s our ultimate guide to Healthy Office Snacks.

Right after you discover our list of healthy office snacks, read on to learn more about their benefits and what good they can do in your workplace.

1. Healthy snacks can enhance productivity

Eating healthy is one of the best ways to ensure your energy levels are high and your productivity is at its best. Food fuels performance. The fuel that food provides is in the form of glucose, which allows brains to stay alert. However, while many of us strive to maintain a balanced diet, it’s difficult to manage our time to take a pause and grab healthy food, especially during our busy hours.

For instance, employees without access to a variety of snacks at the office, leave work to go grab a snack outside. By simply offering and promoting healthy office snacks, you can change the vibe that courses through the workplace.

Employees can simply zip into the kitchen and pick their favorite treat. It is clear that this means people spend more time in the office than they otherwise would. And obviously, the more time in the office translates to greater productivity.

Lastly, eating healthy snacks improves mood. In turn, work relationships can flourish– people become problem solvers and critical thinkers. There is sudden energy within the office that becomes a positive hum instead of a drone of complaining.

2. Healthy snacks can maintain high energy

If you’ve noticed a decrease in energy and an inability to focus on your daily tasks, it might be because of the lack of nutrients in your body.

I already mentioned that food is fuel. Without it, you will quickly run out leading to decreased productivity and crabby mood. So, incorporating healthy snacks into your mid-morning and mid-afternoon can balance out your blood sugar, preventing those dreaded spikes and crashes.

You can also avoid the weekday afternoon slump that leaves your employees feeling drained of energy and sluggish. Healthy snacks can provide you and your employees with energy all day long.

Moreover, keeping healthy snacks on hand reduces decision fatigue for them, so they can focus on making the choices their jobs require instead of agonizing over what they will eat, where they will find it. A quick bite of healthy snacks will keep them running smoothly through the rest of their day.

3. Healthy snacks can make employees happy

Healthy snacks help stave off hunger pangs, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. A fed employee is actually a happy employee!

Imagine how validating it must feel to employees of a company that shows it cares in such a visible way. Working in an office that provides this can make work just a little more enjoyable. The employees can take advantage of this perk, have more money in their pocket, be happier and healthier and brag to their friends about the awesome workplace they are in.

In fact, surveys show the benefits of providing snacks to office employees has a big impact on overall office morale. 67% of those surveyed say that they are happy with their current job because of snacks furnished on the company’s dime.

So if you’re still thinking if providing healthy snacks to your employees can really inspire happiness at work, definitely, the answer is a YES!

4. Healthy snacks can improve one’s mood

In the hustle and bustle of the office, people do not always eat when they are hungry. At times, they are simply too busy to bring their own snacks or rush to the store when they need something to eat.

This means that they will sit at their desks, hard at work, with an empty stomach. This same famished person is not very pleasant to deal with. They do not have the energy to complete their tasks accurately and efficiently. They are also quite moody which makes cooperation among colleagues very difficult.

No one wants to work with someone that is snapping at them constantly simply because their blood sugar levels have dipped. All of this can be easily solved by keeping employees fed with healthy snacks. They will no longer be distracted but will rather be energetic and focused on the task at hand.

5. Healthy snacks can create a better culture

Snacks, like many perks, exist to boost employee engagement. These small perks can be highly symbolic.

To begin with, it sends the right message to your team. Since perks are part of your culture, the perks you choose send explicit and implicit signals to your employees. Healthy office snacks tell your employees that they’re cared for and appreciated and that their overall welfare is important to you.

In fact, a study found that 60% of employees agree that having free food in the office makes them feel valued and appreciated.

However, too often, workplaces are either stocked with an almost empty fridge or with vending machines full of unhealthy treats. So it’s about time for you to upgrade your snacks to something healthier! It can be an easy way to kick off a more comprehensive health and wellness program, providing the foundation for larger cultural initiatives.

6. Healthy snacks can keep health and diet in check

Part of the reason healthy snacks can boost your performance at work is that food literally fuels our brain, which needs a constant supply of energy to function optimally.

So the worst thing anyone can do for mid-day mental performance is to skip meals; and the best thing anyone can do is to eat one with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

However, when so much of our day is spent in our place of work, it is not easy to consume the recommended 5-a-day. For some instances, someone may be rushing to meet a deadline, stuck in an important meeting, or occupied talking with a client. So, having a variety of healthy snacks available throughout the day helps you and your team to meet this nutritional requirement.

Plus, when you provide your body with proper fuel throughout the day, you don’t meet mealtime with starvation. You have more control when your dinner plate lands on the table, leading to decreased portions and less chance of over-eating.

All in all, snacking choices also reflect overall health, which is directly tied to productivity. It should come as no surprise that the healthier your employees are, the more work they’re capable of doing — and the more consistently they can perform at this higher level.

7. Healthy snacks can create social bonding

The best way to break the ice is food! Who doesn’t love food anyway? More so if it’s free and easy-to-pick-up!

Eating is a social event. Sharing food has long been a way to connect and communicate. The ritual of eating has not only been about physical survival but also about cultivating deep familial and cultural connections.

In the office, an inviting, well-stocked kitchen will organically bring people together to converse, swap ideas, and collaborate in a more relaxed environment. In this way, it not only provides a positive impact on productivity and team dynamics, but it also offers different verticals of your office a chance to interact with each other in an informal setup.

All in all, just a small activity such as providing snacks for the entire office is enough to see the change in the overall enthusiasm and energy of the office. It helps bridge social gaps and gives everyone a chance to mingle with one another. Your employees can become closer, thus strengthen your team’s connections.

Takeaway

Employees like to be appreciated. The feeling of being valued can be a bigger motivator than money.

So providing healthy snacks is an incredibly positive force in your workplace. Its powers extend beyond productivity– it brings genuine happiness to them! The presence and availability of healthy snacks in the office foster a more collaborative atmosphere and sense of fun.

Moreover, your employees can improve their overall health as well as learn about healthy eating. Snacking can create stronger connections, which in turn develops stronger teams.

So get your team some healthy snacks! The expense will more than pay for itself with happier, more productive employees who are fully equipped to get the job done.

Make sure to share this article with anyone you think could use it!

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This article was brought to you by Office Libations, your San Francisco Bay Area office coffee, keg delivery, and snack service. Delivering top local brands and kegs of cold brew coffee, kombucha, beer, and wine.

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