If you’re trying to maintain or reach a healthy weight, eating between meals may seem like the last thing you should do. Many nutrition experts say, however, that having a healthy snack midmorning or midafternoon can help you maintain your energy and prevent you from eating too much at lunch or dinner.
The following suggestions can help you keep your appetite and weight in check:
Keep snacks between 100 and 200 calories. Snacks with fewer than 50 calories won’t satisfy your hunger, but those with too many calories will pack on pounds.
Learn to tolerate low-fat. In general, low-fat foods have fewer calories than high-fat foods. But because some snacks advertised as low in fat still have lots of calories, be sure to read food labels to check the calories per serving.
Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables fill you up, provide important vitamins, minerals and fiber, plus they’re virtually fat-free.
Choose fiber-rich foods. Foods with a high fiber content, such as vegetable soup, help you feel full faster than dry fiber-free foods, such as soda crackers.
Buy snacks in single-serving bags. Many snack foods, such as microwave popcorn and snack crackers, come in 100-calorie packs. Although they’re more expensive than buying large bags of snacks, they can decrease the chance you’ll eat a half-pound of chips from the regular-sized bag.
Pick protein. Including a source of protein—lean meats, low-fat dairy products—in snacks will help you feel full for longer.
The following healthy snacks prove that 100 calories doesn’t have to be boring:
Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
1 cup raw cherries or grapes
Large stalk of celery stuffed with a tablespoon of peanut butter or soft light cream cheese
Large dill pickle wrapped in a thin slice of ham or Swiss cheese
4 ounces nonfat or low-fat yogurt
An orange and a few dry-roasted nuts
2 ounces lean roast beef
3 ounces cooked whole-grain noodles with one chopped fresh tomato and 1/2 ounce grated hard cheese
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce with one slice of whole-wheat toast
3 ounces low-fat cottage cheese and three whole-wheat crackers
1/4 cup fat-free ranch dressing with mixed raw veggies
1 small baked potato with 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup frozen yogurt
1 hard-cooked egg