Looking for healthy snacks? Try these pairings next time hunger hits

If you’re looking to up your snack game, here are some tips to consider.

SHARE Looking for healthy snacks? Try these pairings next time hunger hits
Looking for nutrient-dense snack? Pair up a bagel with peanut butter, says one expert.

Looking for nutrient-dense snack? Pair up a bagel with peanut butter, says one expert.

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What’s your go-to snack?

In a 2021 Statista survey, 59% of U.S. adults that snack at least once a week regularly eat cookies, and 58% said they regularly eat chips. The hours after 8 p.m. was the most popular time for snacks.

Snacking can be a solitary activity accompanying a late-night TV show or a plate of goodies shared among friends. If you’re looking to up your snack game, here’s everything you need to know.

What are healthy snacks?

A healthy snack combination is like an equation — it takes two factors to keep you satisfied and satiated.

“For that quick energy, it’s best to choose either a carbohydrate or a colorful food like a fruit or a vegetable,” says registered dietitian Kate Regan. “And, for staying power, it’s best to choose something with protein or fat in it.”

Snacks that are just carbohydrates aren’t inherently bad, she says, but pretzels or chips won’t keep you energized for long.

Simple carbs digest quickly and send quick bursts of glucose to the bloodstream, giving you a burst of energy followed by a crash when the energy is depleted. Simple carbs are found in refined sugars in candy and pop and naturally occur in many foods our bodies need, like fruits and milk.

“If you’re someone who is looking to balance blood sugars, if that’s a priority for you, then a snack that is just carbohydrates is not going to contribute,” Regan says.

Try these nutrient-dense combinations

Here are some combinations that Regan suggests for healthy snacking:

  • Greek yogurt with fruit.
  • Cottage cheese with fruit.
  • Carrots, hummus and cheese.
  • Bagel with peanut butter.
  • Chicken salad with crackers.
  • A mmoothie with a protein or fat added, like milk, nut butter or protein powder.

If you find yourself frequently on the go, Regan recommends keeping shelf-stable snacks like protein bars, trail mix or dried fruit handy.

“It might not be the most balanced snack, but it can at least be something to hold you over until you can get yourself back home or wherever you’re going to be eating your next meal,” she says.

Is popcorn healthy?

Popcorn is low-calorie food and has a good amount of fiber, so it can be a healthy snack when it’s air-popped and doesn’t have movie theater butter (or other butter additions) and high amounts of salt.

Popcorn is low-calorie food and has a good amount of fiber, so it can be a healthy snack when it’s air-popped and doesn’t have movie theater butter (or other butter condiments) and high amounts of salt.

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Popcorn is a delicious staple at the movies or parties, but it won’t provide the most filling afternoon snack.

It’s a low-calorie food and has a good amount of fiber, so it often earns a health halo, especially when it’s air-popped or made at home and doesn’t have movie-theater butter and salt quantities.

But the real issue, Regan says, is that it doesn’t offer much to satisfy you, as a snack should.

“I would probably add something like trail mix or nuts or a protein bar — something with a little bit more staying power — to the popcorn,” Regan says.

Is it OK to snack every day?

Snacking is a way to honor your body’s natural hunger cues and to give yourself food and energy when you need it. It adds “nutrition, balance and fun,” Regan says.

“Snacking is not a bad thing,” she says. “It can actually help you feel a lot more peaceful around food and a lot more in tune with your body which is a great thing for long-term health.”

Intuitive eating is a mindset around your body’s relationship with food — it’s paying attention to your needs and eating what feels good. Regan recommends taking this approach by snacking and asking yourself what you’re in the mood for.

“If what you’re in the mood for isn’t balanced), ask yourself: What can I add to this to provide more satisfaction and more long-lasting energy?” Regan says.

Read more at usatoday.com

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