Hello Friends! I hope this post finds you well! I don’t know about you but my life has been busy! Between my commitments and my kids’ activities, the days and weeks seem to fly by. This means it’s been super challenging to stay on track with my nutrition goals. BUT I’ve come up with some great ways to stay on track with healthy snack ideas even in the midst of the busiest of times. Want to know more? Let’s get into it!
#1: Go through your pantry and throw out any and all unhealthy snacks
This is a great way to eliminate any temptations to eat something that you shouldn’t. Want to know what you should target first? Start reading your food labels and look at refined carbohydrates, added sugar, trans fat, and saturated fat amounts.
Refined carbs have little nutritional value because they’ve been stripped of vitamins and minerals. Added sugars fit into the refined carbs category too. Unfortunately, you’ll find refined carbs and added sugars in many processed snack foods. Check out my blog post HERE which explains why you should limit your added sugar intake and gives you a gauge for your daily limits.
Regarding trans fat, it’s used within a lot of processed snack foods and baked goods to lengthen their shelf life. You should avoid trans fats because they increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Last, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that intake of saturated fat should be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day, and to replace them with unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats. By reading your labels, you can identify snacks that are higher in saturated fat, then throw them out.
#2: Make a grocery list of healthy snacks ideas to include in your pantry and refrigerator
Now, you need to get healthier snacks into your kitchen! Look for high fiber, whole foods. They have had minimal processing and will keep you feeling full for a longer length of time. Check out this POST for a list of great healthy snack ideas that you can use, or you can download the list HERE.
#3: Purchase air-tight containers, ice packs (if needed), and an insulated bag (if needed)
Staying on track can be tricky especially for those of us who are always on the go. Therefore, you’ll need a way to take your snacks with you. This eliminates the possibility of succumbing to unhealthy snacks when you’re hungry and away from home. Air-tight plastic or glass containers allows you to carry a variety of snacks, even those that are liquidity. And ice packs along with an insulated bag enable you to travel with cold snacks on the hottest days.
By the way, I love glass containers like THIS because you can use them in your refrigerator, oven, and/or freezer; they don’t retain smells or food stains; and clean up is a breeze. Plus you don’t have to worry about possible chemicals leaching into your food from plastics.
#4: Schedule one day during the week to prepare your healthy snack ideas for the week
This tip works for you and your family members, especially if you want everyone to eat more fresh fruit. Here’s what I recommend: immediately or soon after you get your groceries, wash your fruit and cut it up for your snacks. Put the cut fruit in clear containers within the refrigerator in a place where everyone can see it. This makes it super easy to access the fruit whenever you (or your family) are in need of a snack because the prep work has been done in advance.
#5: Use your prep day to make your own trail mix and/or granola
Granola is a popular snack food in my house. I love to make it in advance so that it’s available for my family whenever they want it. And, making my own granola (versus purchasing it) is cheaper and I can control the ingredients. For instance, I like to use no-sugar added dried fruit to cut down on added sugar.
#6: Use your prep day to cut vegetables in advance
This is very similar to tip #4, but I think it deserves its own bullet point. Eating a variety of vegetables can be really challenging for people because: they may be afraid to try something new, they may not like a lot of vegetables, and/or it’s just easier to stick to eating the same vegetables. However, if you purchase a small amount of a new vegetable and cut it in advance, it makes it a little easier to branch out and try new vegetables. You can do this with jicama, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. Also, you can easily use the cut vegetables within a smoothie or to make your own juice. Quick tip: adding vegetables to your smoothies is a great way to increase your vegetable intake and mask the taste of a vegetable that you may never eat otherwise (i.e., beets). Try it!
#7: Prepackage your healthy snack ideas on prep day
This tip is especially useful for those who need on-the-go snacks. After you’ve cut the vegetables and fruit, go ahead and put them in individual snack bags or small containers. They will be ready for you as soon as you need them! This is a great way to manage your portion sizes too. Whatever you put into an individual container or snack bag should be one portion size. And, you can create bags/containers for your kids too!
#8: Be mindful when you’re snacking
Now this one is a doozy! You may not realize it, but you may overeat while you’re doing something innocuous like watching t.v. Why? It’s because your mind is distracted by what’s on t.v., and you’re really not focused on what you’re putting in your mouth. Don’t eat straight out of the bag while doing something else. Instead, use tip #7. You can prepackage snacks like dried fruit, nuts, and popcorn too!
#9: Get to know your portion sizes and stick to them
Speaking of nuts and dried fruit, it is super important to know your portion sizes. Nuts help us feel full (due to healthy fats, fiber and protein), and help with weight loss and maintenance. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The same is true for dried fruit, which can be substituted for whole fruit. Unfortunately, some dried fruit contains a lot of added sugar. For nuts, try to stick with a portion size of 1/4 cup. And with dried fruit, try to buy the no-added sugar variety and stick to a portion size of 1/4 cup as well.
#10: Try to avoid late night snacking
Think about it this way: your body is winding down for rest at night. So you won’t have an opportunity to work off many of the calories from a late night snack. If you must snack, have your last snack at least 2 hours before bedtime. And here are some good late night snack options for you: grapes, caffeine-free herbal tea, almonds, edamame, greek yogurt, bananas, cherries, and pistachios. All of these healthy snack ideas support a good night’s rest, and you can use tip #7 to have them ready to go when you need them!
So, what do you think? Are these 10 tips for healthy snack ideas helpful for you? Or, do you have other tips that you use to help you stay on track? Comment below because I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, stay healthy and take care friends!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!