“I don’t, I won’t, I shouldn’t,” may be the things that we say to ourselves between meals when we’re trying to stay away from the tempting bag of potato chips or the pint of ice cream that has our name written all over it. But saying, “I do,” to snacking may be just what the dietitian ordered.
According to Virtua registered dietitian Christopher Gunning, RD, “Snacking doesn’t have to be a bad habit. In fact, people should be snacking two to three times a day between meals.” If you take long breaks between eating, it will actually slow down your metabolism which makes it harder to burn calories.
Gunning says that there are keys to choosing the most satisfying snacks:
- Keep snacks to 200 calories or less.
- Find out what foods curb your appetite and keep you feeling fuller longer.
- Learn to satisfy your cravings with healthy alternatives to junk food.
Five foods that make ideal snacks are; popcorn, nuts, Greek yogurt, quinoa, and raw vegetables with dip.
Why say "I do" to popcorn?
- It’s a whole grain.
- There are only 90 calories in 3 cups of aired-popped popcorn.
- It’s inexpensive and can be made in a brown paper bag in the microwave.
- It can be seasoned with chili powder, grated parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper or cinnamon to add flavor.
Why say "I do" to nuts?
- They’re a healthy fat that’s also filling.
- Shelling peanuts or pistachios forces you to do more work so you tend to eat less.
- Raw almonds or cashews are crunchy and satisfying.
- A palm-full, or 23 almonds (1 ounce), is only 160 calories.
Why say "I do" to Greek yogurt?
- It’s low-fat and has calcium.
- It has double the protein of regular yogurt.
- All that protein takes longer to digest and keeps you feeling full longer.
- It has 200 calories or less.
Why say "I do" to quinoa?
- It’s a whole grain that can be a rice substitute.
- One cup has 8 grams of protein.
- It takes longer to digest so you feel fuller longer.
- It’s very satisfying when mixed with vegetables, chicken or nuts.
Why say "I do" to raw vegetables?
- Bell peppers, carrots and broccoli contain both water and fiber.
- They’re low in calories.
- Dipped in 3 tablespoons of hummus, they’re only 69 calories in a serving.
- They satiate cravings when eaten with plain Greek yogurt mixed with ranch seasonings.
As Gunning says, “There aren’t any magic, fat burning foods out there, but smart snacking goes a long way in staying fit.”