If you constantly find yourself starving between meals, incorporating healthy snacks into your day can save you and your kids from overeating at your next meal. However, not all are created equal. Even beloved snacks from our youth—granola bars, for example—can hide lots of added sugar and calories that we don’t need. Holistic nutritionist Amanda Carneiro of Raw Fitness and Nutrition in Los Angeles schooled us on how to snack smarter. Here are six of our favorite bite-sized tips.
Choose whole foods
Pair healthful, fibrous carbohydrates (like fruits and vegetables) with protein-rich foods (like meat, nuts, or legumes). “When you’re eating whole foods, your body lets you know when you’ve had enough,” Carneiro said. “Common snacks make you want to eat more.” She conquers cravings with cut-up vegetables and hummus or sliced avocado.
Fat keeps you full
Don’t forget about incorporating a healthy dose of fat into your snack. “Protein and fat keep you satiated longer because they have more calories per gram of fat,” Carneiro said. Which in this case is a very good thing because it takes your body longer to process it than a simple carbohydrate, staving off blood sugar spikes. We like whole grain toast slathered in our Original Almond Butter and topped with sliced bananas and coconut chips for a late afternoon treat.
Pay attention while eating
Step away from the computer—or that binge-worthy show—and take a break when you decide to snack. “If you’re not paying attention your brain doesn’t register that you’ve eaten,” she says. Though ideal portion sizes vary from person to person, practicing mindfulness can help you recognize when you’re no longer hungry.
Think of a better bar
Instead of reaching for energy bars, which can be high in sugar and calories, look for something closer to what Mom would make. Snack bars with simple ingredients that you can pronounce, like nuts and seeds, can be a great option on the go. Carneiro looks for bars with low amounts of sugar and protein supplements, like collagen, mixed in. Ready to make your own? This recipe is one of our faves!
Make healthy snacks easy to reach
Store nut butter, fruits, and vegetables where you and your family can see them on a counter or shelf. For kids, have carrots, lettuce, and bell peppers washed and cut up in the fridge ready to go. Carneiro likes to keep washed blueberries in an open bowl in her fridge so they’re easier to grab.
Meal prep for specialty diets
Since many popular diets like Keto and Whole 30 encourage avoiding processed foods altogether, consider preparing your snacks at home. “Make extras of your meals and keep them in the refrigerator,” she says. Leftover roasted sweet potatoes with a piece of chicken breast or sautéed vegetables become easy snacks that don’t need any preparation. Or try batch cooking a healthy snack like these keto-friendly fat bombs (we like adding a ½ cup of our Almond Protein Powder) and storing them in the freezer for later. Then enjoy them for weeks to come.