Many of us don't think about planning snacks. Snacks just happen. And too often that means we find ourselves standing in front of the vending machine, pulling through the drive-through or staring at the chips and cookies in the pantry. In a recent survey of 1,500 people by our friends at AllRecipes.com, the majority said that a healthy diet was important to them, but resisting treats and snacks was a significant obstacle for 53 percent of those surveyed.
We may think of that chips or French fries as a harmless little snack, but, in reality, every calorie counts. The Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter recently reported that snacks now account for a quarter of the average American's calorie intake. Essentially, snacks add up to a fourth meal, so it's important to make sure your snacks have nutritional value, not just empty calories.
And remember that even healthy snacks can become unhealthy if you overeat, so watch your portions.
Here are 10 healthy snacks to try—and be sure to pack a snack when you or your kids are on the go:
- Apple or pear wedges with peanut butter
- Low-fat mozzarella cheese stick (string cheese) with whole-wheat crackers (look for whole wheat as the first ingredient listed)
- Whole-wheat wrap spread with hummus and topped with turkey lunch meat, lettuce and sunflower seeds or pine nuts
- Nuts (about the amount that fits in the palm of your hand) and a piece of fresh fruit
- Nuts and dried fruit, with a few semisweet chocolate morsels for that chocolate craving (easy to carry with you in a zip-top bag)
- Plain or vanilla nonfat or low-fat yogurt with berries and nuts
- Butter-free popcorn, with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese
- Baby carrot sticks with low-fat dressing for dipping
- Turkey roll-ups made with turkey slices spread with pesto and sprinkled with sunflower seeds and chopped lettuce and cherry tomatoes
- Celery sticks spread with peanut butter or with low-fat cream cheese and topped with nuts or raisins
Remember to watch what you drink, too. Cutting out sugary sodas can go a long way toward improving your health. Water is the ideal beverage, with a twist of lemon or lime for extra flavor. Unsweetened tea, coffee and diet sodas also will keep your calorie count down, and tea and coffee may have some other health benefits.