Sensible Snacking

Photo Credit: FotoosVanRobin CC-BY-SA-2.0

Americans really enjoy their snack foods. Vending machines are located just about everywhere and contain sugary drinks, chocolate bars, salty chips and pretzels and candy snacks. Convenience stores and many grocery stores place the candy bars and small bags of chips close to the checkout line or beside the cash register where you will be tempted to make an impulse buy. These snacks can contribute hundreds of empty calories to your diet. According to the USDA snacks can amount to nearly 600 calories per day. Many people will consume a full meal’s worth of calories every day just by snacking. Eating between meals does not have to be a diet disaster. You can eat a healthy, nutritious snack between meals that can help boost your metabolism to aid in weight loss. The key to losing or maintaining your weight and still enjoy between-meal snacks is to snack sensibly.
If you get hungry between meals, you should eat a healthy snack so that you do not over-eat at mealtime.  Snacks that will curb your hunger without adding too many extra calories will contain fiber and protein.   Peanut butter on whole wheat crackers or on a stalk of celery will ease your hunger pangs and provide nutritional protein, carbohydrates and fiber to help you feel full. Raisins, walnuts, almonds, dried cherries and apricots or fresh fruits, such as apple slices, a pear, an orange or a handful of grapes are rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. One-half cup of low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, like blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, can help you feel less hungry while providing your body with important vitamins and calcium. 
Don’t keep a bowl of chips, pretzels, popcorn or candy on the table in the television room! Mindless snacking can add hundreds of calories to your diet and you won’t even realize how much you have eaten. Replace your high-calories television snacks with healthy alternatives like dried fruits, nuts, granola and fruits. Low-fat cheese and whole wheat crackers is a healthy alternative to popcorn and chips. Cut out the sodas when you snack. Drink a glass of water before your snack to help you feel full between meals. 

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