Do you know that snacking can help you to control or even lose weight? Eating snacks helps to keep your stomach full and thus prevents you from overeating during mealtimes. Snacking also boosts your energy level and makes you feel more alert and energetic throughout the day.
I am not referring to snacks like potato chips, rojak, curry puffs, french fries, cakes, doughnuts, or anything that is high in calories, oily and unhealthy. Listed below are five snacks you can incorporate into your diet if you are intending to eat healthily or trying to shed some pounds.
Plain yoghurt, which does not contain artificial flavoring and has a low sugar level, is the healthiest option. However, if you think that plain yoghurt tastes too boring, you can add in natural fruits. It can be any fruits you like: berries, such as strawberry, blueberry, and cranberry, are the more popular options. Among them, blueberry is the top choice among dieters because, not only does it taste good, but it also has a low glycemic index, meaning it will help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. Blueberries are also extremely good sources of antioxidants, which are healthy for your heart and longevity.
If having to add fruits to plain yoghurt is too time-consuming and troublesome, you can also get yoghurt with added natural fruit bits off the shelves. Just make sure to read the label because many of these yoghurts contain a large amount of added sugar. Try to pick yoghurts that are low in fat and contain only natural flavors and ingredients.
Vegetables are another healthy snack to go for. Most vegetables are good sources of fiber, which is important for digesting and processing food. Fiber may also help lower your blood cholesterol levels. Furthermore, eating food that is high in fiber makes you feel full, which in turn helps to control the amount of food you eat during mealtimes.
Veggie sticks, such as carrot and celery, are a convenient option as they do not require much preparation and can be brought to work or school without hassle. If you think that veggie sticks are too bland, you can dip them into low fat cottage cheese.
Another way you can eat vegetables as a snack is to cut them into bite sized pieces and freeze them. Alternatively, you can also choose small vegetables that do not require any cutting such as peas and corn. Just like eating ice-cream, frozen vegetables dissolve gradually and leave a lingering sweetness in your mouth.
Another healthy snack is nuts, which are rich in protein, fiber and antioxidants. As they often come in convenient packaging, you can carry them around and have them anytime and anywhere. Nuts are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to one's body. These fatty acids help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, boost one's brain performance, decrease blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and help to maintain one's weight.
There are a great variety of nuts in the market for you to choose from and some of the options are: walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and macadamia nuts. Try to choose ones that are unsalted.
Of course, you can also make nut-snacking more interesting by combining them with other healthy snacks, such as adding them into yoghurt. Despite their health benefits, it is advisable not to eat too many nuts at one go because they are relatively high in calories.
4. Soy Chips
If you are a potato chip lover, trying to eat healthily or lose weight does not mean that you have to stop crunching on chips. A healthier alternative to potato chips is soy chips, which are high in fiber and proteins, and low in fats. Research also reveals that soy protein, as found in soy chips, may be very helpful in losing weight and may also help ensure that the weight you are losing is from your fats and not your muscles.
Fruits which have high vitamin and mineral content are great to snack on. Apart from "keeping the doctor away", a Brazilian research study in 2003 found that eating three apples per day can keep one's weight down.
Fruits can be eaten as they are, or be incorporated into other healthy snacks, such as mixing them with vegetables and creating a salad, or mixing them with walnuts and maple syrup. Alternatively, you can also freeze fruits and turn them into frozen fruit bars: they taste just as good as ice-pops but are so much healthier.
Now, who says that the road to a healthier diet has to be tediously bland? The healthy snacks above can be eaten as they are, or mixed and matched to create endless tasty combinations.
There are many options out there — the most important thing is to be creative, have fun and create something healthy that suits your taste buds. Dieting does not mean quitting eating; it simply means eating the right thing.
On your next trip to the grocery store, remember to make healthy choices! Do you have a favorite healthy snack? Share it with us in the comments below!
Edited by Registered Dietitian Arielle Kamps, M.S., R.D, L.D. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide "Eat Your Way to Health — Secrets of a Healthy Diet".