For many of us, snack time is when we lose control of our diets, either by overeating, or by indulging in high-fat, high-calorie foods. This often happens because we allow ourselves to get too hungry and then are unable to stop ourselves from overeating, says Dee Sandquist, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and manager of the Nutrition and Diabetes Center at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.
To avoid getting too hungry, Sandquist says she recommends always carrying a healthy, portable snack with you when you know you'll be out on the run without easy access to healthy food choices. Try getting at least two food groups in each of those snacks so that you're getting a combination of carbohydrates and fat/protein, which will help keep you satiated longer, she adds. Here, some super snack food ideas:
Plain Yogurt with Blueberries
Pair plain yogurt with blueberries for a sweet treat that has a similar texture to ice cream. Yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein, and blueberries are packed with valuable antioxidants that help fight off heart disease. If fresh blueberries aren't in season, try frozen instead -- they work great in cool, creamy yogurt. Or if you get bored with blueberries, substitute any other frozen fruit like cranberries or cherries.
Recommended Serving Size: Plain, low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup, 56 calories Blueberries, 2/3 cup, 30 calories
Banana with Almond Butter
This combination will keep you satiated for a longer time than either on their own because of the combination of fiber in the banana and protein and fat in the almond butter. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps and is essential for normal brain function. Of course, peanut butter would be a great substitute for almond butter.
Recommended Serving Size: Medium banana, 95 calories Almond butter, 1 tablespoon, 101 calories
Hummus with Pita Bread
Made from chickpeas, hummus provides protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Spread hummus on pita bread for some added carbohydrates. Also try putting some veggies on your bread to make a great sandwich.
Recommended Serving Size: Hummus, 2 tablespoons, 83 calories Pita bread, 1 round, 195 calories
Apple with Brie Cheese
Stick to a small amount of cheese with this snack because of brie's high saturated fat content. However, brie does offer a good protein source. Apples have a low glycemic index, which means they keep hunger at bay longer than other fruits.
Recommended Serving Size: Apple, 47 calories Brie cheese, 2 ounces, 160 calories
Salsa with Baked Tortilla Chips
Ingredients in salsa vary greatly, but most tomato-based vegetable salsas are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease and some cancers. Avoid high-calorie fried chips by purchasing the baked varieties instead, and be sure to look for varieties that list zero trans fats on their nutrition labels.
Recommended Serving Size: Salsa, 2 ounces, 20 calories Baked tortilla chips, 1 ounce, 120
Light Microwave Popcorn
Although this is a single-food snack, Sandquist says she recommends it because of its high fiber and B vitamin content. Plus, who can resist the smell of popcorn?
Recommended Serving Size: 1 cup, 30 calories
Originally published on BHG.com, April 2005.