(BPT) - Eating small snacks throughout the day can be a great way to maintain energy and keep hunger pangs at bay between meals. The problem is, it's far too easy to reach for unhealthy foods that satisfy your sweet or salty cravings, but don't necessarily provide the essential nutrients your body needs.
You can prevent mindless snacking by taking a few proactive steps now so you have access to delicious foods that are easy to eat at home or on the go. You'll feel good about snacking by following these simple tips and tricks:
Convenience: Shop with the goal of stocking the fridge with convenient, nutrient-rich snacks. For example, new Fruitlove spoonable smoothies are packed with the goodness of three or more real fruits and vegetables, providing a good source of protein and calcium, and an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 and B3. The unique flavor combinations — like Mango Medley that features banana, pineapple, carrot and mango — seem like a treat, but Fruitlove is really a wholesome snack packed with goodness. With a spoon right in the container, it's built for on-the-go snacking.
Weekend prep: Some people do meal prep on weekends for the upcoming busy work and school week. This can also be a great strategy for snacking. For example, buy fresh vegetables in bulk to save money, then spend some time on Sunday chopping them into veggie straws and packaging them into individual containers. This provides an easy grab-and-go snack. Keep them in an accessible drawer in the fridge so anyone can get a healthy snack when hunger strikes.
Drink up: Sometimes your body confuses thirst with hunger, so strive to stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle close by and sipping regularly. When you snack, also consider a side of good old H2O to help your body feel its best. Bored with this zero-calorie beverage? Add a healthy flavor boost with sliced lemon, strawberries or cucumber.
Portion size: It's easy to overeat when you have a whole bag or container to snack out of. Whatever the food, be mindful of the portion size on the nutrition label. A smart way to stick to reasonable portions is to take the snack and put the correct portion in a bowl. That way when it's gone you are done snacking rather than being tempted to overindulge.
Crunchy alternatives: Looking for a way to satisfy that craving for something crunchy without resorting to unhealthy chips? Whole nuts have a tasty crunch and are packed with protein, omegas and other nutrients. For example, 1 ounce of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 75 milligrams of calcium.
Snack slowly: When you're hungry, you tend to eat faster. However, it's important to eat slowly to let your body metabolize food efficiently, plus it can trick your mind into feeling like you're eating more. For example, eat one nut at a time rather than handfuls of three or four. Take breaths between bites and notice the tastes and textures of the food, enjoying every bit.
Whole grains: Whole grain foods provide essential nutrients and fiber, which helps you feel more full for longer. An often-forgotten versatile whole grain is popcorn. Consider investing in an air popper and popping your own so you can flavor it with wholesome toppings such as dried herbs or cheese. Separate into individual baggies that can easily be tucked into backpacks or purses.
With these smart tips you not only tempt your taste buds, but you also give your body snacks you can feel good about. From smart shopping to mindful snack prep, these changes are sure to make a big impact in how you snack.