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What is a Healthy Snack?

Smart Snacking on the Go Life on the road for a short vacation or as your job can lend itself to eating meals and snacks that are quick and affordable, but can be high in fat and calories. Snacking has become a way of life for many individuals and, if well chosen, can contribute to your daily nutrient needs. Snacks are a great way to help keep your energy level steady and your mind alert until your next full meal.  Snacking is healthy at any age but for kids there are advantages. Since children have smaller appetites and tend to eat less at a meal, eating several smaller meals or snacks throughout the day can provide them with the nutrition they need for growth, development and activity.

Benefits of Snacking

Some studies suggest that eating frequent small meals is a better weight management strategy than eating one or two large meals. Eating healthy between-meal snacks can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent you from feeling too hungry and then overeating at meals. However, it’s important to pay attention to what types of snacks you eat. Smart snacking is all about choosing healthy, nutritious snacks.

Varieties
  • When buying snack foods, read labels and be aware of high fat and sodium content foods.
  • Think ahead and plan snacks, and always try and include nutrition and wellness when planning. Choose whole grain crackers, breads or cereals instead of refined products, opt for lower fat yogurts, unbuttered popcorn instead of chips.
  • Be sure that your snack is for hunger and nutrition – not because you are bored or stressed.
  • If you find yourself snacking mindlessly, move to a different location so you can eat in awareness.

Smart Snacking on the Go

What is a Healthy Snack?

Snacks can be the same as small meals, with foods from the four food groups. They should include complex carbohydrates (grains, cereals, fruits or vegetables), some lean protein (low fat cheese, yogurt, lean meat, chicken, beans) and a small amount of fat.

Some healthy snacks include:
  • a sandwich made with whole grain bread, vegetables and a lean protein source
  • a bowl of hearty vegetable or bean soup
  • cheese and whole grain crackers
  • yogurt with fruit and a low fat muffin
  • cottage cheese with fruit
  • pita crisps with a bean dip
  • baby carrots with hummus
  • whole grain cereal with milk and fresh fruit
  • a handful of nuts with fresh fruit
  • homemade trail mix

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada and Canadian Living nutrition and health websites, 2008