House Call: Healthy Snacking

Making the right snacking choices tends to be challenging for most; however, there are ways to make heart healthy snacks enjoyable. Joining us for this week's House Call is Becky Foster, RD, LD, Director of Food Service at UHC, to help us with good snack selections.

1). Okay I am ready for a snack, so what should I do first?

Before reaching for a snack, ask yourself:

Am I Hungry? – If you are not hungry, skip the snack and go for a walk, call a friend or read a magazine you have wanted to read.

Am I Angry/Stressed? If you are angry or stressed take a walk or do some physical activity, this will more than likely relieve the anger and stress than food.

Am I Lonely? If you are lonely, you will still be lonely after your eat. So, go for a walk or call a friend.

Am I Tired? If you are tired, make a note to go to bed a little earlier at night if possible. You will still be tired after you eat. Do some deep breathing and stretching.

So, only eat if you are actually hungry and HALT is a great acronym to remember when it comes to snacking.

2). Becky, I tend to get hungry around 3 pm--what should I consider for a snack?

First, the best approach to snacking is to plan it and be prepared. Do not wait till 3 pm to think about what you are having for a snack. There is too much temptation to choose a quick bag of chips. Prewash fruit, cut up veggies and measure out your portions in advance. Some items to include on your grocery list, along with the usual bread and milk are:

· Fresh fruit – blueberries, strawberries, apples, banana,

· Nuts or nut butter – look for ones without added sugar and measure it!

· Fresh Vegetable sticks – such as carrots, peppers, celery

· Plain Greek yogurt – you can add your own fruit

· ½ of a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread

· Trail mix — nuts, dried fruit and whole-grain cereal – watch your potions! This snack packs a lot of calories in a small portion.

· Hummus or skim milk cheese – in moderation – watch those portion sizes!

3). What’s the best way to avoid unhealthy snacks?

Clean out your pantry of unhealthy items and stock it with healthy choices. Consider dedicating one shelf in your fridge to these grab-and-go snacks. Making your food more visually appealing is important to your appetite. Think of your new snacks as treats, not boring healthy stuff. Finally, put variety in your snacks so you do not get burned out on the same carrot sticks every afternoon.

4). How many calories should you consider when choosing your snack?

Remember, in a typical meal plan snacks usually account for 100 to 300 calories for the day (depending on your specific caloric needs). Be sure to keep portion sizes appropriate and not to overindulge with mindless munching. If you have an ape on your phone to record your food intake, be sure to include your snacks and see how much they add to your daily totals