Snacks play an important role in our diets and health, but when they’re filled with things like sugar and fat, the role they play can be an unsavory one. The purpose of snacking is to take the edge off of hunger until the next mealtime. It isn’t to fill up on empty calories that make us eat less of the healthier foods we’d normally have for meals.
Snacking can help us curb tendencies to overeat at mealtime, but the type, timing and portion size are all keys to successful snacking. Here are five healthy snack foods that will satisfy your need to snack and help you maintain a better overall diet.
Long gone are the days of rice cakes that were reminiscent of tiny, little cardboard disks. Today there are numerous flavors to choose from with something for just about anyone’s taste. Some of the varieties are barbecue, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, caramel and of course, good old natural. Rice cakes are very low in fat and calories, but some flavors can be high in carbohydrates. It’s best to eat these snacks earlier in the day to give your body’s metabolism a better chance of burning the carbs before they can turn to fat.
There are hundreds of types and flavors of yogurt available. The trick is to find the one that’s best for you based on factors like taste and nutritional content such as fat and calories. The good thing about yogurt is that it’s hard to get bored with it because there are so many varieties to choose from. But if you still manage to get tired of it somehow, stir in some fruit or dry cereal for a little crunch and some extra flavor. Yogurt is also a great way to get calcium and vitamins into your daily diet.
Popcorn, without the salt and movie theater butter, of course, is a great healthy snack that’s easy to make and simple to spruce up. An air-popper or microwave should be used rather than oil. Mix only one tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of heart-healthy canola oil and a salt substitute and you’ve got delicious, healthy popcorn. Low-fat cheeses, garlic powder, chili powder and a host of other seasonings and spices are ideal for livening up popcorn as well.
Raw vegetables served with a delicious low-fat dip are a great treat. The simplest way to incorporate vegetables into your diet is to clean and slice them as soon as you buy them, or even better, as soon as they’re harvested from your garden. Then store in separate, clear containers in the fridge for easy access. When you’re in the mood for a snack, you can conveniently grab something healthy such as green peppers, carrots, celery or cauliflower, just to name a few, without eating a large number of calories.
Yes, even certain “junk foods” can be healthy, especially when you choose the right kind and the right portion. Permanently depriving yourself of something you enjoy may cause you to sabotage healthy eating habits and possibly eat more. Pretzels are an excellent snack since they’re low in calories and most have no fat. There are also healthier types of potato chips to choose from, as well as a variety of other tasty snacks. And by snacking in moderation, you can make sure you’re controlling your sodium intake as well.
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