Snacking can serve different purposes for different people. Because there are so many reasons people may snack, there are plenty of good reasons to snack during the day! You may snack to avoid being “hangry” in between meals. But other people might snack to help manage blood sugar or give themselves an extra energy boost before a workout.
Snacking during the day fuels your cells and provides energy to get you through the day, especially if you have an active lifestyle. Snacking can also be an excellent way to get in your daily servings of fruits and vegetables, which is sometimes hard to meet with just three meals daily.
Keep in mind that snacking during the day might not work for you. For example, if you do shift work with higher activity levels at night, you may benefit more from snacking at night.
Most people choose to snack once or twice a day. But that number will vary from person to person. My best advice would be to listen to your body. If your stomach is growling and it’s not quite time for lunch or dinner, it may be a good time to snack.
Listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues is a good mindfulness practice.
When I think about snacks with texture, I think about fruits, vegetables, and nuts. You can grab a handful of raw carrots, but you can also pair up food items for a more filling and tasty snack.
Here are some of my favorite pairings:
- apples and peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)
- celery and carrots and Greek yogurt ranch
- walnuts with dried fruits and pretzels
- frozen fruit dipped in yogurt
- cucumbers and hummus
Fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, and whole grains are rich sources of fiber.
Most of the fiber you get from fruit is in their skin. For example, a significant portion of fiber from an apple is in the skin. Also, did you know you can eat the skin of a kiwi and that it’s
Additionally, grains like oats, corn, rice, and quinoa, that are unrefined, are great sources of fiber. So, a bowl of oatmeal or popcorn make for some great fiber-rich snacks.
Chia seeds are also known for packing a lot of fiber in a tiny package. Toss 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into your favorite smoothie recipe for an extra 6 g of fiber.
Protein, fiber, and sodium are good nutrients to pay attention to when snacking.
Protein-rich snacks are great after a workout, since proteins play a vital role in building and repairing muscles.
Most people in the United States eat way less fiber than they should. The daily recommended intake of fiber is 25 to 30 g per day. Fiber-rich snacks are a good idea if you’re seeking ways to increase your fiber intake and feel satisfied between meals.
According to the American Heart Association,
Replacing meals with snacks is OK if you’re on the go. You might not always have the luxury of time to sit and have a full meal. A balanced snack containing all three macronutrients — carbohydrates, fats, and proteins — can come in handy when you’re short on time.
Smoothies are a great example of a balanced snack because it’s easy to switch up the ingredients and consume them on the go. My go-to smoothie recipe contains mixed berries and fiber-rich carbohydrates, along with chia seeds and peanut butter, which contain healthy fats and protein.
Enjoy your snacks! Yes, it’s great to choose snacks that contain fiber, proteins, and other nutrients, but snacks that are good for your taste buds are equally important. You don’t have to compromise taste for nutrition.
Sometimes it just takes a little more exploring and experimenting to find snacks you enjoy. There aren’t any real rules to snacking, but if I could make one up, it would be to enjoy it!
Sade Meeks is a registered dietitian, food activist, and writer. She is also the executive director and founder of nonprofit GRITS Inc., whose mission is to promote health equity among underserved communities.