A Dietitian’s Guide to Healthy Snacking

Written by Nazish Taban Yazin

In today’s fast-paced world, snacking has become an essential part of our daily routine.
However, choosing healthy snacks can be challenging, considering the plethora of tempting
but unhealthy options available. Luckily, a dietitians expertise can guide you towards
nourishing snacks that not only satisfy your cravings but also contribute to your overall well-
being.

Here are a few tips on how you can incorporate healthy snacking into your lives.

1. Plan Ahead
As obvious as it seems, one of the keys to maintaining a healthy snacking routine is to plan
ahead. This is where you create a weekly meal and snack plan, ensuring that healthy
options are readily available. Preparing snacks in advance can aid in curbing mindless,
unhealthy choices when hunger strikes.

2. Choose Nutrient-Dense Snacks
High-sugar snacks may give you a quick energy boost but this will soon be followed by the
inevitable “sugar crash”. When selecting snacks, opt for nutrient-dense options rather than
empty calories. So, how do you do that?

We look for 3 important components: Fibre-rich carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. For
snacks, aim to have at least two of those three components. Protein and fibre-rich snacks
provide you with a slow release of energy, keeping you satisfied until your next meal.

Fibre-rich carbs
Fibre slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps keep you full longer. It’s found
in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Nuts and seeds also have some fibre. Some
examples of fibre-rich snacks include:
● Whole grain crackers
● Whole grain bread
● Whole grain cereal
● Popcorn
● Oats
● Potatoes (sweet or white)
● Fruit like berries, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, oranges, or kiwi
● Dried beans like broad beans, chickpeas, and edamame or snacks made from beans
● Chia seeds
● Dried figs, prunes, or apricots
● Snap peas, cut bell peppers, or carrots

Protein to build a balanced snack

Protein is the most filling macronutrient because it takes a lot of time and energy to digest.
That’s why it can be helpful to add protein to your snack to keep you full.
However, in the wellness world, there’s a big obsession with protein. Protein alone is not
enough to fill you up and keep your blood sugar stable. You want to pair protein foods with
either a fibre-rich carb or some fat (or both) to get the most out of your snack. Some
examples include:

● Hard-boiled eggs
● Cottage cheese
● Greek yogurt
● Canned tuna
● Canned beans
● Dried beans like chickpeas, broad beans, or edamame
● Cubed tofu
● Nitrate-free beef or turkey jerky
● String cheese
● Cheddar cheese
● Parm crisps (dehydrated parmesan cheese)
● Pistachios
● Hemp seeds
● Smoked salmon

Healthy fats
Fat is the most slowly digested macronutrient, which means that it raises your blood sugar
the least, and can give you sustained energy [1]. It also adds texture and flavour to your
food, making your snack so much more satisfying.
Because fat has more calories per gram than carbs and protein, dieters often go for low-fat
options. But skipping the fat just leaves you feeling less satisfied and hungry sooner. So,
don’t fear fat!

Aim for plant-based fats as they are commonly linked to improving heart health, and
cognition and reducing risks of many diseases [2]. Healthy fats to include in your snacks:
● Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, or cashews
● Chia seeds
● Hemp seeds
● Full-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese (also contains protein)
● Avocado or guacamole
● Olives
● Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, mixed)
● Pumpkin seeds
● Sunflower seeds

3. Portion Control
Snacking often leads to mindless munching, resulting in excessive calorie intake. Remember
to not treat snacks like they are another main meal. Learning appropriate portion sizes
prevents overeating and supports weight management goals as well.
Avoid snacking straight from the bag or box, as you won’t be able to see how much you’ve
had and won’t fully appreciate the food you are eating. Instead, portion out your snack onto a
plate or into a container for later.

For example:
● ¼ cup of Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds or other seeds added to 15 almonds
● 80g air-popped popcorn
● 1 medium piece of fresh such as an apple or small banana OR 2 small pieces of fruit
such as kiwi fruit, mandarin OR 1 cup of chopped fresh fruit/berries OR 15 grapes
● 170g-200g tub of yoghurt
● 50g cheese and crackers
● 40g trail mix

4. Mindful Snacking
Practising mindfulness while snacking is essential in fostering a healthy relationship with
food [3]. Take a break from distractions and focus on the taste, texture, and aroma of your
snack. Preferably, avoid snacking while you’re doing tasks that require concentration, such
as reading, working, driving, watching TV or using a computer.
Take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling – respond to your body’s cues by snacking
when you’re hungry, rather than when you’re stressed, sad or bored. Eating mindfully allows
you to savour each bite, leading to increased satisfaction and improved digestion [3].

5. Hydration
Often, when we feel hungry, we might actually be thirsty. It is crucial to stay hydrated
throughout the day. Drink an adequate amount of water and incorporate hydrating snacks
like cucumber slices, watermelon, or herbal teas to maintain hydration levels and minimize
unnecessary snacking.

Let’s wrap it up!
Snacking can be a joyful and nutritious way to satisfy hunger between meals. Working with a
dietitian provides expert knowledge and personalized guidance, ensuring that your snacks
contribute to overall health and wellness. By incorporating these tips, you can feel confident
in your snack choices, knowing that they fuel your body and support your well-being.
Remember, healthy snacking is a habit that pays off in the long run!

Reference:
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960974/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089671/
3. https://www.snackmindful.com/#what-it-is

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