Many people find themselves snacking throughout the day, whether it’s at work, while they’re on the go, or when they’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Unfortunately, mindless munching can often wreak havoc on our diets and waistlines. But it doesn’t have to. Snacking can actually be a good thing for your metabolism and diet if you’re eating the correct things.
“[When dieting,] people often wait too long in between meals, so by the time they eat, they’re so hungry, their portions or choices are out of control,” Linda McLachlan, a dietitian, tells Fitness. “Snacking helps keep you satisfied and wards off cravings.” The trick is making sure you have healthy snacks to eat and portioning them out ahead of time. Remember, even healthy foods can derail a diet if you overindulge in them. Here’s a list of seven nutritious and tasty snacks that will keep your stomach satisfied and your diet on track.
1. Homemade trail mix
The big thing with snacking is watching your portion size, particularly with trail mix, according to the same article from Fitness. However, you shouldn’t feel the need to overindulge if you’re using the proper ingredients in your trail mix. Creating a tasty mix out of walnuts, mini chocolate chips, and raisins will leave you perfectly satisfied thanks to the sweetness and fat found in these ingredients.
Fitness recommends aiming for a palmful of walnuts with a pinch of chocolate chips and raisins. If you’re tracking your calories, keep your serving size to about one ounce of walnuts and about a teaspoon each of the raisins and chocolate chips. It will contain around 250 calories.
2. Nut butter and apple slices
Nut butter is a tasty food you can enjoy at work. Simply keep a jar of the butter of your choice at the office, bring along an apple, and you’ve got an easy snack on hand. Interestingly, peanut butter has a bad reputation for being a fatty and calorie-packed food. It does have calories and fat, but that doesn’t make it bad for you. Prevention writes that peanut butter is packed with nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6.
And while it contains fat, it’s the good kind, otherwise referred to as monounsaturated fat. Ready to dig in? Slice up your apple, layer on some nut butter, and you have a killer snack combo, EatingWell writes. If you want to switch things up a bit, you can also use mini rice cakes instead of apples. Both will add a nice crunch to your creamy nut butter. Just remember to try to avoid overindulging in the peanut butter itself; it is by no means a low-calorie food.
Popcorn is a satisfying, cheap, and diet-friendly snack food. If you’re going for the absolute healthiest option, buy the kernels and pop your own, making sure to limit the butter you put on it. However, if you’re aiming for convenience and are looking for a snack to enjoy at work, Cooking Light recommends picking up 100-calorie snack packs of popcorn. Be sure to look for fat-free popcorn that isn’t soaked in butter.
Three and a half cups of popcorn will help to fill you up and contains one of your three recommended daily servings of whole grains, according to Cooking Light. If you’re looking for a great alternative to chips and crackers, popcorn is the way to go. It’s also a perfect snack to enjoy while watching TV or a movie.
Both dried and fresh fruit are healthy snack options. Bananas and apples are both relatively low-maintenance fruits that you can easily bring with you to the office. Snacking on fresh fruit ensures you’re getting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which boosts your immune system and helps you to perform your best at work, according to Inc. Looking for dried fruit options? FitDay notes dried peaches, apples, apricots, lychees, and prunes are among the healthiest choices.
You can easily carry these in your bag or keep them at your desk. Inc. writes almonds provide a solid dose of protein and healthy fat, ensuring you feel satisfied when you’re done munching.
“They contain nine essential nutrients; have the highest rate of proteins when compared to other nuts; have the highest rate of fiber (3.5 grams per 23 pieces) when compared to other nuts; are rich in vitamin E (23 pieces provide 35% of the daily value of vitamin E); and contain monounsaturated fats that help increase HDL levels,” Nicole Maftoum, a clinical dietitian, tells Inc.
If you frequently eat almonds and are looking for a way to spice up your daily snack, go the flavored route instead. According to FitDay, there are many almond flavors, including dry roasted, smoked, cocoa roasted, and cinnamon. It’s also a great ingredient to use in trail mix.
6. Dark chocolate
Fear not, chocolate lovers! You can still enjoy your oh-so-sweet treat. In fact, Glamour writes it can actually eliminate cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen gave volunteers either milk or dark chocolate, and then asked them to track their food cravings. Those who were eating dark chocolate ate 15% fewer calories than those who had milk chocolate.
Cooking Light suggests indulging in a mix of dark chocolate and nuts. You’ll help suppress your pesky cravings while ensuring you’re getting a dose of polyphenols and flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent damage caused by cholesterol in arteries.
7. Rice chips
This is a great gluten-free snack that’s packed with flavor and crunch. It’s a tasty choice to turn to when you’re craving something similar to chips. Rice chips pair perfectly with dips and spreads, including guacamole, nut butters, and jam, making it a perfect snack to munch on while you’re catching up on some of your favorite TV shows.
You can even get rice chips that come in assorted flavors, including sea salt, tomato and herb, wasabi, and fiesta lime. You’ll get a hearty dose of brown rice and whole grains while keeping your stomach satisfied and your diet on track.