5 Tips for Healthy Snacks
Healthy snacks are part of a balanced diet. Here are a few ideas to fuel your energy throughout the day.
How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t snack between meals?
In fact, snacking is part of a balanced diet and can offer numerous health benefits. For example, snacks provide us with energy throughout the day and help us to control our hunger. They also provide us with nutrients that we may have missed at mealtime. Snacks are especially important for children, who only eat a little at a time, but need lots of energy. Same goes for teenagers, who need energy during growth spurts.
Snacking is only a problem if you choose food with little nutritional value. Healthy snacks, however, are as simple to prepare as they are delicious to eat! Here are five tips to healthier snacking.
1. Combine proteins and carbohydrates
The ideal snack includes a carbohydrate-rich food (fruit, vegetables, grain products, dairy products, etc.) and a protein-rich food (nuts, dairy products, legumes, eggs, etc.). The protein will keep you full, while the carbohydrates will give you a dose of energy. Try duos such as raw vegetables and hummus, fruit and nuts, fruit and yogurt, cheese and crackers, boiled egg and raw vegetables, etc. The possibilities are endless!
2. Avoid ultra-processed foods
Although they often come in a convenient format, snacks made from ultra-processed foods should be avoided (e.g., flavoured yogurts, muffins, salty snacks, sugary bars, etc.). Most of these foods are not very nutritious, and are high in fat, salt or sugar. These snacks are also much more expensive than making your own at home.
Choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods (like the examples given in the tip above), which are good sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
3. Make snacks ahead of time
Make a grocery list before you head out to the grocery store, including what you’ll need for snacks and for meals. Prepare as many items as possible. For example, you can cut up your fruit, vegetables and cheese, boil eggs and divide your Greek yogurt into individual portions. Eating one of your healthy snacks should be as easy as grabbing a bag of chips or a chocolate bar from the pantry!
4. Choose the right time for a snack
It is important to listen to your body. Before eating a snack, ask yourself: Am I really hungry? Or am I just thirsty? Am I eating because I am bored or am I just used to eating a snack at this time of day?
Listening to your hunger cues is the best way to know if it is time for a snack. Otherwise, as a general rule, snacks should be taken three to four hours after the last meal, and at least an hour before the next one, so as not to spoil your appetite. If you feel hungry earlier after your meal, ask yourself if your meal was high enough in protein or if the portion was sufficient.
5. Snack on cheese from Switzerland
Cheese is a highly nutritious food rich in protein, calcium, vitamins and good fats. Swiss cheeses are also an excellent source of omega-3, thanks to quality milk from cows raised on alpine pastureland.
You now know everything you need to prepare healthy snacks for your whole family! Have fun trying different combinations of flavours and textures. That's part of the fun of snacking, too!