100 Days of Fitness
by Lauren Squier, MPH, RD
It seems that the word “snack” has come to mean highly processed junk food. Advertisers have redefined the word and our health is suffering as a result. Let me take a moment to set the record straight on snacks.
Snack = a small amount of food eaten between meals or a light meal
- provide nutrients that may be missing from meals*,
- satisfy hunger between meals, which may prevent overeating, and
- contribute extra calories.
Snacks are recommended for kids to help them get the nutrients they need. It’s an opportunity for them to eat different foods than they have at mealtimes and get additional calories to provide energy and fuel growth. Adults may or may not need snacks. Eating well balanced meals may eliminate the need for snacking in adults. Including protein, fat and healthy (unprocessed) carbs with meals helps satisfy hunger for longer periods.
Why are you snacking?
If the answer is “I don’t know” or “I’m bored”, try a different solution than eating. If you can’t resist those salty or sugary treats in the pantry, don’t buy them at the store next time. Think of snacks as a way to satisfy short-term hunger and enhance health. Snacks are an opportunity to get additional foods and nutrients that may be lacking in your diet.
What are you eating for snacks?
Highly processed and irresistible snack foods (chips, crackers, cookies!) lead to overeating and undernutrition. Ditch them and replace with nutritious whole foods. A healthy snack is made up of two or more food groups and usually has a balance of protein, carbs and fat. Think about adding color and various textures to make them more interesting.
- Plan ahead: portion several days of snacks at one time.
- Bite into these healthy snacks…
Veggie sticks + hummus
Aged cheese slices + pear
Nut butter + apple
Raw nuts + berries
Plain/low sugar yogurt + nut based granola
Spiced chickpeas + dried fruit (no sugar added)
Sugar snap peas + tahini
Celery sticks + tuna salad
Unsweetened banana chips + nut butter
Homemade trail mix: raw nuts + dried cherries + toasted coconut chips + cocoa nibs
Bell pepper strips + guacamole
Popcorn + mixed nuts
Sliced cucumbers + organic edamame + rice vinegar + salt
Hardboiled egg(s) + fruit or veg
- Snack mindfully: take a break and focus on your food. Practice gratitude for the good food you are eating and it’s nourishing effect on the body.
* Did you know? Our food contains fewer nutrients than it once did due to intensive farming practices, selective breeding, and longer food transportation times.
Researchers from the University of Texas Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits. They found “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.
This means we must try harder to meet our nutrient needs. Smart snacking is a great way to improve nutrition! So is shopping at a local Farmer’s Market.
Questions about any of the above? Need more guidance? Email the expert! Lauren welcomes questions and is always happy to share more tips and tricks with anyone who asks so… ask away!
Lauren Squier, MPH, RD
Lauren Squier, MPH, RD, is a Registered Dietitian, trained chef and owner of Culinary Enlightenment. Lauren’s nutrition background and culinary skills provide a unique blend of resources to help people plan meals, shop, cook, and eat better. For more than a decade, she has been teaching nutrition to children, adults and families through healthy cooking and eating.
Read more about Lauren here. Check her website for more articles & recipes and come to bootcamp and talk to her in person about your nutrition challenges. She has a lot of knowledge and is always ready to share it.