The best way to succeed at consuming a healthful diet is to plan. Plan for the munchies during your favorite t.v. show, plan for the mid-afternoon snack you promise yourself you’re not going to eat (but then do anyway), and plan for when the incredibly healthful dinner you made just wasn’t quite enough to hold you over until bed.
(NOTE: If your healthy dinners are consistently leaving you hungry read this.)
Be realistic. No matter if you’re just starting out on a healthful lifestyle change, or if you’ve been at it for years, you’re going to want to snack. We’ve all been there: standing in front of our fridge, looking at shelves full of fresh produce, seeing nothing to grab, and instead opening the freezer followed by the pint of Cherry Garcia and having at it.
I’ve felt shameless face-stuffing turn to guilt. It sucks. Now I plan for the inevitable afternoon and evening snack search by having these seven things always ready to grab in my kitchen.
Healthful Snack #1: Apples
A fresh apple typically contains 65 calories*, 17 carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and zero guilt. Although these crunchy, sweet, and surprisingly satisfying fruits are so easy to grab and munch. These are my go-to snacks for my purse. If I find myself hungry, I MAKE myself eat an apple if one is within range. I find, nine times out of ten, by the time I am done munching I feel full and energized. I like to think the apple’s famous doctor deterring phrase came from someone choosing an apple over a bag of chips every day- but obviously I have no historic evidence to back it up.
Healthful Snack #2: Bananas
I have a sweet tooth. So I NEED to give myself sweet snacking options or else I find myself failing miserably at sticking to my meal plans. According to Authority Nutrition, a typical banana has 89 calories*, 1 gram of protein, 23 carbs, and 3 grams of fiber. Numbers aside (I rarely scrutinize over calories/carbs anyway), bananas contain cardiovascular super-nutrients potassium and sterol, score low in the glycemic index, and contain enough fiber to make you feel satisfied after snacking. Bananas are a great, grabbable and healthful snack.
Healthful Snack #3: Hard Boiled Eggs
I don’t know about you, but I grew up hearing eggs are unhealthy and should be avoided, or at least de-yoked when enjoyed. According to Livestrong, nutritionists have tossed this notion due to the discovery that foods high in cholesterol do not raise blood cholesterol (saturated fat does!). I think it’s so easy on Sunday to boil seven eggs on a back burner while I’m preparing my lunch for the week. With less calories and carbs than a banana or an apple, hard boiled eggs are easy to grab, peel, and snack on. Hard boiled eggs are full of protein too, which makes them healthful and more satisfying in the long run.
Healthful Snack #4: Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is, by far, one of my favorite healthful snacks. Let me rave about the nutrients for a second: a third of your daily b12 vitamins*, tons of calcium and potassium, and so many gut-leveling probiotics you have no idea. But my favorite fact about Greek yogurt is that one serving can have as much as 17 GRAMS of protein. Snacking on Greek yogurt helps me quell my sugar cravings, while being healthful (read: guilt free), and
keeping me full.
Healthful Snack #5: Protein Powder
Okay, okay- hear me out. I’ve done the workout-protein-shake fitness programs, and I’ve personally had a very hard time keeping up with the volume of protein shakes those types of programs expect you to drink. I don’t recommend you replace a daily meal with a protein shake (a strategy that’s always set me up for failure), but I can say that having protein ready to go to throw into my smoothies helps me avoid unhealthful snacking afterward. Smoothies very often aren’t all that great for you in the first place. They’re packed with sugar, they’re not very hydrating, they’re full of carbs. Smoothies can be a healthful snack, but the smaller portions may not be enough to keep you full- that’s where a little protein powder comes in. A half- to a full-scoop can keep you full while being virtually undetectable in your snack.
Healthful Snack #6: Quinoa
In my humble opinion: quinoa is the greatest food of all time. Your mouth thinks it’s a carb, but it’s the only grain in the world that is a WHOLE PROTEIN on its own (a whopping 6 grams of protein per cup). It tastes fresh, and it goes with anything. Throw quinoa on a salad, use quinoa as a healthful replacement for pasta or rice, combine quinoa with some sliced tomatoes and half an avocado and drizzle some balsamic dressing on that bad boy. I always have a container (1 cup cooked) of quinoa cooked and ready scoop into anything I’m eating. It’s easy to prepare. Just bring one cup of water to a boil for every cup of quinoa you want to cook. Bring the water to a boil, add the dry quinoa, leave water at a boil and stir for 1-2 minutes, turn the heat to low and cover the saucepan until the little grains have soaked up all the water, and enjoy!
Healthful Snack #7: Mixed Nuts
Mixed nuts are a great healthful snack for all you salt-cravers. So many reliable sources claim adding nuts to your diet can support heart health, assist with weight loss, and help you actually absorb more nutrients* from the other parts of your diet. I love mixed nuts, and have actually been able to get rid of my (few, far between, but incredibly monstrous) potato chip cravings altogether by just having a container of mixed nuts ready to go.
As always, let me know what you think. What are your favorite healthful snacks? Do you have any healthful snacking strategies to share? Comment your healthful strategies and stories below.
Jackie is a writer with a love for healthful food, fun exercise, and mindful living. The Fresh Professional blog should not be a replacement for seeking professional nutrition advice.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. 12 essential vitamins are: A, C, D, E, K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folate, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid.