Most diet experts agree that snacking can and should be a part of a healthy diet. However, in a market flooded with companies claiming their foods are the very best and should be part of your daily routine, it can be difficult to separate the truly healthy food from the unhealthy. A quick jaunt down the snack aisle reveals hundreds of boxes claiming to be low or reduced fat. If you are following a low-fat diet, you may feel it’s impossible to find snacks that meet your needs.
Make Snacking Part of Your Routine
Another common problem plaguing dieters is the conflicting advice given about snacking. How often should you snack? Does the rule that you shouldn’t snack past 7 p.m. make sense? Can snacks complement your eating plan rather than detract from it?
Many experts recommend working snacks into your daily meal plans. Eat about every three hours to keep your blood sugar and metabolism steady. That way you will avoid crashes and excess hunger and burn calories more efficiently. Plan to eat three regular meals daily and fill in the gaps with low-fat snacks.
Snacking After 7 P.M.?
Opinions differ wildly on the “after 7 p.m. rule.” Some experts feel it isn’t a big deal, while others are adamantly against it. It is true that eating right before bedtime can make it more difficult to digest your food properly, and lying down after eating sometimes leads to heartburn or difficulty sleeping. Many people are prone to over-snacking in the evening. Knowing your habits and patterns will help you decide whether to follow the rule.
Choose tasty, low-fat snacks to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Check out the following, suggestions, and add those that appeal to you to your daily meal plan.
Many cracker companies make low-fat and reduced-fat versions of your favorites. Check the ingredients before purchasing to be sure the crackers you choose don’t contain trans fats, listed in the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils. Choose crackers that list whole grains first. These will fill you up faster. Pairing the crackers with a protein, like a light- or reduced-fat cheese or fat-free meat, will also increase their staying power.
Low-fat yogurt is a tasty and versatile treat at any time of day. Cut up fresh fruit and treat the yogurt as a dip to help it go further. Also try mixing in low-fat, crunchy cereals, such as Grape-Nuts, for extra flavor and texture. A small amount of chopped walnuts mixed into yogurt also goes a long way.
Baked Chips and Salsa
When it seems that only chips will do, try swapping out your corn or potato chips for baked chips, especially an all-natural version that lists whole grains as its first ingredient. Salsa is completely fat free and offers a delicious burst of flavor to what might otherwise be a boring snack. Better yet, salsa counts as a serving of vegetables, adding important vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Snacking on all natural, low-fat granola bars is a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Most are only about 90 to 100 calories and very filling. The addition of honey or chocolate chips can feel like a sweet treat in the middle of the day, or try one for a satisfying dessert.
Popcorn is naturally low in fat when you pop it in an air popper. Steer clear of microwave popcorn, since most brands are loaded with grease and chemicals. Sprinkle freshly popped popcorn with your favorite seasonings to keep it interesting and low in fat. Try a mix of oregano, basil, and grated Parmesan cheese for an Italian-flavored treat. A bit of taco seasoning mix or chili powder and cumin gives popcorn a spicy zing.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have little fat and are loaded with fiber and water. As far as snacks go, they are a dieter’s best friends. Keep prepared fruits and veggies on hand to make sure they are ready to go without a lot of hassle. Place a fruit bowl on your counter, and load it with shiny apples, bright oranges and other favorites. You can’t go wrong with celery sticks, carrots, peppers, other fresh veggies, and even frozen fruit stored in containers and at the ready in your fridge.