“I don’t really believe in diets. I love food… If I deprive myself, I’m going to want it more. I snack on yogurt, raw cashews and cherry tomatoes.”- Nicole Scherzinger

“I slice up a ton of cucumbers, celery, carrots, and red and yellow peppers.  Keep them in your fridge so you always have something handy to curb your snack attack”  -Summer Sanders

“People who snack sometimes eat kind of thoughtlessly and end up eating a lot more.  But, in principle, it’s really a good idea if you can exert the kind of discipline needed” -Michael Pollan

 Snacks have gotten a bad reputation lately.  Food manufacturers, stores, and consumers have moved more towards convenience and taste over nutritional value.  Walk down any grocery store aisle and you would most likely find snack foods such as chips, cookies, candies, gummies, and packaged pastries.  While I admit these foods taste phenomenal and are convenient, they don’t really do much else.  Most snack foods are full of the 3 biggest offenders: salt, fat, and sugar.  Salt contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Fat contributes to weight gain and high cholesterol.  Sugar also contributes to weight gain and may create sugar spikes throughout the day.  These nutrients have been found to be quite addicting as well.  Instead, I encourage you to choose healthy snacks.  

Benefits of Snacks:  Healthy snacks are great opportunities to fill gaps in a diet. Snacks can provide extra protein, complex carbs, vitamins, and minerals. They help reduce cravings later and provide a quick energy boost.   Also, they keep your metabolism hot!  When your metabolism works consistently, you burn calories quicker and more efficiently.  Lastly, healthy snacks can help you think more clearly.  With the extra energy boost, snacks make you more alert and quicker in your thinking.

Best Snacks: You may be saying, “ok I get it.  Some snacks are hurtful while others are helpful.  How do I know the difference.”  I will make it simple for you: Healthy Snack= Lean protein + whole grain.  Typically, a healthy snack should be a combination of 1 whole grain and 1 lean protein.  This combination does several things.  The whole grains give you steady flow of energy.  It also provides a feeling of fullness from fiber.  Fiber slows digestion as well, so more nutrients are absorbed.  Protein again gives you a feeling of fullness.  It will also provide you with the building blocks that would repair any “damaged” tissues from exercise, injuries, or overuse.

Examples of Snacks: You may thinking, “there can’t be THAT MANY healthy snack choices.  It may seem so.  But, there are actually plenty combinations you can choose from!  Here’s some examples:

-1 cup low fat milk and 1 cup whole grain cereal
-a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
-1 cup greek yogurt and 1 cup whole grain cereal
-1/2 cup whole grain crackers with peanut butter
-1 cup trail mix
-1 whole piece of fruit and peanut butter
-1 cup of milk and a whole grain granola bar
-1/4 cup almonds and a whole grain granola bar

You get the idea.  What’s most important is that you choose snacks that will promote wellness and overall a good feeling.  Try some healthy snacks next time you need a pick me up, go for a healthy snack.  You may just be surprised!  As Always, Eat, Move, Improve!
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