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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Snack a Day Keeps the Doctor Away... Maybe

Healthy eating is hard. I know, because I’m trying to do it right now. And for many people, including me, the hardest part about healthy eating is the snacking.

As some of you know, I have started drinking green smoothies. When I set out on the green smoothie journey, I wanted to make those the biggest part of my diet. But I’ve run into two struggles with that: 1) In order to get enough calories in my day, I have to be drinking green smoothies constantly, and I don’t have the money or taste for that. 2) It is hard to pass up snacks throughout the day, especially since my green smoothies are all liquid and I want something solid.

Passing up snacks is especially hard when I am at a desk for eight hours a day. I’m not complaining about my job, in fact I love my job. But I get hungry at my desk. And snacks are so easy.

As I thought about this predicament, I realized I am probably not the only one who feels this way. So I decided to look up some good snack choices for work, which are not only healthy (ish) for us, but are also low in calories, so they don’t destroy our diets (and I’m using the term “diet” here to mean “a particular selection of food, especially as designated or prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or to prevent or treat disease*” and not just a diet to lose weight).

Here’s my list:

Fruits: Fruits are a wonderful snack idea because they are high in nutrients and usually have low calories. They are also good because they are normally easily carried. Some great, and classic, examples are Apples (95 calories), Bananas (105 calories), Oranges (62 calories), Kiwi (46 calories) and Grapes (62 calories in one cup).

Vegetables: Like fruits, vegetables are a great source of nutrients and low calories. And they can also be easily carried or transported. Examples are Carrot Sticks (4 calories per stick), Celery (1 calorie per strip) and Cucumbers (14 calories for one cup sliced).

Nuts or Seeds: Nuts and seeds are a great snack because they can keep your hands and mouth busy, while providing healthy fats and good proteins. While you may not be able to eat as much if you’re on a weight-loss diet, they are still a great source of good nutrients. Try eating Pistachios (80 calories for around 24 nuts – my personal favorite), Roasted Peanuts (6 calories per nut), Almonds (80 calories for 12 nuts), Cashews (156 calories per oz), Sunflower Seeds (135 calories per half cup with shells), Pumpkin Seeds (57 calories per tablespoon).

100 Calorie Snack Packs: Finally, I know there may be many of you who, like me, just have a hard time giving up your chip and cracker snacks. It is so easy (and relatively cheap) to buy a bag of chips and just work on those as you go. But sadly, you are consuming not only more calories per snack, but also a lot of saturated fats. Not good. But if you still need them, I would recommend the 100 Calorie Snack Packs you can find at the grocery store. These offer fewer calories, and are helpful with portion size. I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased a bag of potato chips with the intention of eating a little at a time, then finding, after an hour, that my hand is hitting the bottom of the bag and all I’m getting is crumbs.

Too many 1,500-calories-from-a-bag-of-chips-in-one-hour experiences to count.

Finally, there is actually great benefit in snacking, as long as it is done in a healthy manner. By making sure you are consuming food every 2-3 hours, which you can do with three square meals and a snack between meals, you are keeping your metabolism working. This means it is constantly burning something, helping your body have energy and (if you’re dieting) lose more weight.

And don’t forget the best snack of all: Water! Whether or not you’re using any of these other snack ideas, be sure to drink plenty of water each day. A good standard for daily water intake is eight or nine glasses of water per day. And you should be drinking more if you have an active day (from work, sports, exercise, etc.).

If you have any other healthy snack ideas, I would love to hear them. I also welcome any recipes you may have for healthy snacking. If you comment or send me a recipe I like, I’ll be sure to blog about it!

*From Dictionary.com

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