How often do you find yourself stuck in between hunger and a busy schedule? If you are like most people, it may happen pretty often. You might not have time to plan a proper meal—if you even have time to sit down and eat one at all. The answer to your hunger and time problems usually comes in the form of a snack, something quick, tasty, and hopefully satisfying.
Making the right food choices can be difficult, especially when your goal is a quick bite to eat that does not get in the way of your schedule. One walk through a convenience store or past a vending machine shows that when it comes to snacking, healthy choices can be hard to find. There are even pitfalls out there in the form of granola bars, energy bars, and “healthy” versions of chips. Choosing the right snack item is an important decision. Not only do you need something that is nutritious, but you also need something that will satisfy your hunger for a couple of hours.
The Right Stuff
- Fiber: Foods that are high in fiber take a little longer to digest and leave you feeling full longer. A fiber-rich snack can stave off hunger for several hours even though the portion is small.
- Carbohydrates: Your good carbohydrates usually are packed with fiber also. You want to eat complex carbohydrates from whole grains (a slice of whole wheat bread, small amount of cereal, etc.) and avoid simple carbohydrates that are often delivered via processed sugar (candy bars might be snack-sized but they are terrible choices for a quick pick-me-up).
- Protein: Your body uses protein to rebuild muscles and other tissue, so make sure you select snacks with some protein in them. For the record, you do not need to eat meat to get protein; nuts, low-fat yogurt, and other great snack choices will do the trick.
Choose a snack that has a mixture of all of the above ingredients. Remember that it is a snack, so portion control is an issue. Also remember that you need to limit the amount of salt and sugar in your diet, so pick snacks that have natural sugars (this means fruit) and choose low- or no-salt options.
Snack on This
- PB and B: Try a single slice of whole wheat bread with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter and a few banana slices (instead of sugary jelly). You get all of the above ingredients in a small portion that is easily packed in a sandwich baggie.
- Baby carrots: Carrots have fiber and natural sugar, and they come in a variety of easy-to-carry snack-sized packages. You can take them with you on the go for a quick bite.
- Nuts: Almonds get a lot of press, and for good reason, but nearly any nut has some healthy ingredients. The combination of fiber and protein will give your body some nutrients while satisfying hunger. Go for low- or no-sodium varieties to avoid eating unnecessary salt.
- Yogurt and fruit/granola: A cup of low-fat yogurt can be dressed up with some fresh berries and low-fat granola to make a healthy and tasty snack. It takes next to no time to put together and has the feel of a sweet treat.
If you control your overall calorie intake and limit your portions, you can snack regularly and still maintain or even lose weight. Choose snacks with the right nutrients and avoid the bad, yet common, choices like candy bars, bite-sized cakes, and even most muffins. Food manufacturers know that if they pack a snack with sugar and then write “natural” on the label, people are likely to buy it on the premise that it is good for them. In the eyes of the FDA, “natural” can mean a lot of things.
For more information on basic dietary issues or to locate a physician who can tell you more about proper snacking, call Consult-A-Nurse® at 1-888-741-5119. If you are looking for a full-service medical care provider in Hudson, Trinity or anywhere else along the Nature Coast, please visit Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point online.