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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Snacking Is Not Your Enemy

Jan 31, 2013 04:20PM

We’ve long been told to eat three “square” meals a day and avoid snacking. But if you plan and prepare healthy snacks, they can actually help you lose weight.

Eat Planned Snacks in a Timely Way

Plan to eat a snack two to three hours after meals to prevent hunger.  If your meals are more than four or five hours apart, then you should plan to eat a healthy snack to maintain levels of insulin and blood glucose.  Healthy snacking provides you with consistent energy and optimal brain function, especially during that mid-morning or mid-afternoon craving when many of us hit the vending machines and unfortunately find less than healthy choices for a pick-me-up.

Choose Wisely

Rather than eating a snack full of empty calories, choose nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit.  Plan to eat at least two tablespoons of nuts and/or seeds per day for heart-healthy fats, fiber, and loads of vitamins and minerals too. Seeds such as flax, hemp, chia, sesame, and sunflower are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients to overall health. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews add to the omega-3 benefit while providing feelings of satiety and lots of energy. They all make great healthy snacks either alone or in combination with healthy carbs such as whole fruit.    

Carry Snacks with You

Don’t wait until you’re so hungry that you’ll eat anything. Prepare for the unexpected by always having a healthy snack with you. Nuts and fruits are easy to pack and can prevent you from reaching for an unhealthy alternative.

Lori R. Lee, MA, RD, CPT, is the owner/director and registered dietician of the Wellness Center for Northwest Jersey and LRD Nutrition Services.

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