It is extremely difficult to be a healthy consumer these days. Between confusing advertising from companies, mixed advice from family and friends and complicated nutrition labels, it can be hard to know what's best for your body. Here are some guidelines that you can feel comfortable following concerning healthy snacks. Remember that nutrition guidelines may be adjusted based on your height, weight, gender and activity level. These are general recommendations.
Snacks As Mini-Meals
A snack should be a mini-meal, balanced with carbohydrates and a serving of protein or healthy fat. Snacks can help keep your metabolism moving and your blood sugars stable. Having a snack between meals can also prevent you from overeating at your next meal due to hunger.
If you go longer than 5 or 6 hours between meals, your blood sugars drop significantly and your body can suffer the effects of starvation mode. This causes you to crave sugar, and you might make an unhealthy choice at your next meal, or overeat because you are so hungry. A small snack can keep your energy levels up and your blood sugar stable.
It's important to plan your snacks as you would your meals. Portion them out, sit down and eat them slowly. Try not to graze and pick throughout the day or run to the vending machine between meetings. Have balanced snacks ready to go as part of your meal plan.
Healthy Snack Checklist
- Calories: 300 or less
- Trans fat: zero grams
- Saturated fat: less than 3 grams per 150 calories
- Sodium: less than 200 mg per serving
- Added sugar: under 8 grams per serving
- Fiber: at least 3 grams of per serving
- Whole grains as first ingredient if they are included in product
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