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Try some snacks that pack a nutritional wallop for a small caloric price

One of the biggest myths about snacking is that it's a bad thing. The truth is that it's not snacking itself that's bad for us. It's all the junk food people like to snack on that gives snacking a bad name: chips, candy bars, french fries, soda, and so on.

In fact, if you eat until you are comfortable (not "full") at lunch, chances are you'll need a mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner with plenty of energy. The secret is to snack only when you need to and to select smarter snacks.

Try these seven tips for smart snacking. Let's get going!

1. Give healthy snacks a chance.

If you try some of the healthier snack alternatives out there, you may well find that you enjoy them. This appears to be true even of college students. One college dining hall discovered that when it offered healthy snacks along with traditional ones, a significant portion of the student population actually opted for health. The dining hall, which regularly sold snack bags containing sugar-laden soda, cookies, and candy, began also offering "smart snack bags," containing baked chips, low-fat cookies, fruit cups, sunflower seeds, and water. And for every two students who bought the traditional, sugar-soaked snack bag, there was one who bought the "smart" snack alternative.

If you're one of the many people whose idea of a good snack is something crunchy and salty, know that you can have your crunch and eat smart, too. Here are a few possibilities for more healthful crunchy snack foods:

  • Low Fat Kettle Crisps (110 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 0 g saturated fat, and 2 grams fiber per 1 ounce.)
  • Baked Tostitos (110 calories, 1 gram fat, 0 g saturated fat, and 2 grams fiber per 1 ounce.)
  • Reduced Fat Triscuits (120 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 g saturated fat, and 3 grams fiber per 1 ounce)
  • Padrinos Reduced Fat Tortilla Chips (130 calories, 4 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, and 1 gram fiber per ounce.)

2. Avoid trans fats.

You've no doubt heard of the trouble with trans fats by now (they raise "bad" and lower "good" cholesterol). Well, guess which type of food they tend to lurk in? Snack foods - things like crackers, snack cakes and pies, frozen fried microwave snacks, and cookies. Anything with "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" listed among the top three ingredients on the label is suspect. Some manufacturers have done a good job of reformulating products to remove trans fats, but keep an eye out anyway.

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