Choosing Healthy Snacks throughout Your Day

National Nutrition Month shines a spotlight on nutrition in everything we eat; big and small. After all, every bite counts. Many people find themselves snacking between meals throughout the day to maintain their fuel but often ask themselves what are the healthiest snacks they could be consuming? Jenny Watkins, Mallory Crutchfield and Kerry Francis are clinical dietitians at Hillcrest South. They take pride in sharing their insights into how to build and maintain a healthy lifestyle, through moderation and by including healthy snacks into daily routines. 

“Snacks are inevitable for most people but a healthy and satisfying snack is what many are searching for,” says Watkins, lead clinical dietitian at Hillcrest South. “They end up settling for something high in fat or salt from the vending machine.”

While vending machines may present quick options for snacks, taking the time to prepare your snacks and plan ahead will help you to maintain your health in the long run.

Crutchfield agrees that when it comes to nutrition, the small decisions can have great impact.

“Nutrition means healing, nourishing, comfort and pleasure,” Crutchfield says. “It can provide essential nutrients to aid in healing your body, provide nourishment to your brain, muscles and organs, and even provide comfort in times of sadness or stress. Good nutrition is essential to our wellbeing.”

The American Heart Association has grouped snack options into various cravings. For crunchy and satisfying snacks, try:

·         Roasted chickpeas

·         Rice cakes

·         Whole-grain crackers

·         Nuts and seeds

If you’re looking for a snack that will help you feel full, whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter is a great option. So is a fruit and vegetable smoothie or low-fat or fat-free cheese. When you’re craving something sweet, try a baked apple, frozen banana or grapes.

Watkins says she has a few favorite go-to snacks she eats throughout her day.

“Some of my favorite snacks include a medium-sized banana or apple with peanut butter, a vanilla Greek yogurt or a handful of trail mix that contains seeds, nut and dried fruit,” Watkins says.

She explains these are great snacks to get through the day because they all have great flavor, contain complex carbohydrates and are rich in protein. These will help fill you up and satisfy cravings rather than cause you to go back for another snack later.

Francis adds, “My favorite snacks include mixed-berry RX Bars, mint chocolate Oatmega bars, Dannon Lite and Fit Greek Yogurt. Also cherry tomatoes and any fruits with nuts or cheese is great.”

Francis encourages people to be realistic with any of your health goals by making them small and attainable. Following a balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, along with an occasional treat, will leave you more satisfied and allow you to have more long-term success.

“A balanced diet, exercise, stress management and getting plenty of sleep are all crucial to your overall health,” Francis says.

Some of Crutchfield’s favorite snacks include Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt, apples with Smuckers All Natural Peanut Butter, a handful of unsalted mixed nuts, grapes or fresh berries and string cheese. Nature Valley Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate granola bar are also a great option.

“The key for me is carbohydrates, which give my brain energy and protein, which keeps me satisfied for longer,” Crutchfield says. “To add in more Omega 3’s fatty acids in my diet, I typically add chia seeds to my yogurt or peanut butter.”

While Watkins adds that anyone, even registered dietitian nutritionists, are human and enjoy the occasional sugary snack, she notes that moderation is key. Thinking about how much sugar you’re consuming and how often your consuming it is a great place to start.

“The key is moderation in everything, especially sweets,” Watkins says. “This is what we preach and teach almost daily to our customers, patients and even family members. We are always here to help anyone we can.”