Snacking is often strategic or mindless. Strategic snacking would be having a light amount of food to tide you over till your next meal, and mindless would be snacking too heavily, or, just to snack. There are times when I fall into both categories. Sometimes I have an apple (45 calories) with a slice of cheese (80 calories) for a quick and filling 125 calorie snack. Sometimes I have an apple with cheese, then some slices of turkey lunch meat, then tortilla chips, then a cookie ... and my snack becomes mindless. I usually only mindlessly snack when I am bored, hurried, or stressed. It's a habit I'm trying to break, and I know I'm not alone!
Here are some healthy, low-calorie snack ideas!
Fruit - fruits and vegetables already contain water, so that means extra hydration when you snack on some! Apples and bananas are great for throwing in your bag on your way out the door. I also like to make my own fruit salad with strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes, and pineapple. I slice it beforehand and put it in a clear container. When I open the fridge, it seems like a lot less work to have fruit because it is already washed and cut up. I also don't have to feel like I need to throw away the rest if I don't finish it.
Some ideas: Strawberries, watermelon, pears, apples, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes, blueberries mixed with yogurt, fruit smoothie
Raw Veggies - I bought a small-ish sized bag of baby carrots at one of the places to eat on campus recently. The whole bag of carrots was only 35 calories but packed with nutrients and the water carrots already contain. I only had half of the bag before it filled me up! This was healthy food that my body will use for fuel for only 17.5 calories - it beats eating a handful of chocolate covered pretzels (approx. 220 calories) that my body won't use for fuel and will leave me still hungry.
Some ideas: bell peppers with hummus, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cooked corn, baked asparagus sprinkled with parmesean cheese, Romaine salad mix (I eat it plain for a quick, crunchy, snack)
Nuts and Nut Butters - Nuts are high in the good fats. Just a handful of nuts will give you a protein and energy boost. Nut butters are also a wonderful way to add taste. Spread a nut butter on whole grain bread for a sandwich or toast, on apple slices, sliced celery, or whole grain crackers.
Some ideas: cashews, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, pecans
Proteins - There are plenty of ways to sneak protein into snacks. We covered nuts and nut butters above, but there are also other protein options! Greek Yogurt is filled with protein and tastes great mixed with berries. Turkey slices are light and filling - make a lettuce wrap by rolling a sheet of lettuce around a few slices of turkey, a bit of cheese, and mustard. Half of a low-calorie protein smoothie is another way to add protein. (For the kind I make, a whole one is a meal replacement for me. So try half for a snack!)
Some ideas: lettuce wraps with lunch meat, yogurt, nuts and nut butters, cheese, rice and beans, avocado spread on a whole wheat English muffin
Last but not least ... water! Water isn't food, but your body needs it every day to be hydrated and function properly!
I hope this gives you some ideas for smart snacking! Try your best to eat the nutrients your body really craves, and don't get too carried away with counting calories. This is quality over quantity. Listen to your body to see if you are actually hungry or are just snacking just to snack. Doing so will keep your body fueled and performing at its best!
Have any more tips? Feel free to add yours below!