Food & Drink

Smart Snacks


Choose good-for-you nibbles when hunger strikes

A snacking makeover, which involves replacing high-fat and high-sugar snacks with healthier, low-fat, low- sugar and whole-grain foods, is one of the simplest and most effective ways to achieve healthy eating habits.

When hunger hits in between meals, that’s when good intentions start to fail. Choosing snacks such as whole-grain Cheerios helps to recharge your energy without derailing your commitment to healthy eating. Whole grains not only provide you with energy, but also supply important nutrients, fibre and phytochemicals.

Here are a few healthy options that don’t sacrifice taste and convenience:

• Make healthy eating a part of your diet by reaching for snacks with multiple nutritional benefits. Choose foods that complement your meals and add variety to your diet. For example, if you tend to fill up on meat and dairy at mealtime, reach for fruit or whole-grain snacks to balance your nutritional intake.

• Match snacks to calorie needs and weight goals. Learn which nutrient-dense snacks are between 100 and 200 calories. Some choices include a high-fibre granola bar; 60 millilitres (one-quarter cup) of trail mix; a bowl of Cheerios with milk; or half a bag of light microwave popcorn.

• Manage your portion size. Eating too much is one of the most common mistakes people make. Snacks shouldn’t fill you.The purpose of a snack is to ensure you’re not hungry. For example, 25 almonds is a snack under 200 calories; however, 125 millilitres (half a cup) of almonds could be considered a meal.

• Snack when you’re hungry. Resist the urge to nibble in response to boredom, stress or fatigue.When mid-afternoon hits and you need to take a break, stretch, go for a walk and drink some water. People often mistake thirst for hunger. By staying hydrated, you may not be as inclined to overeat.

Snacking is part of a healthy lifestyle, especially when it includes things most people lack, such as whole grains. According to Canada’s Food Guide, snacks can keep people energized and provide important nutrients if chosen wisely. Making a few small changes to something you do every day can lead to forming new habits that will benefit your body. ■