When exploring which snacks might be right for you, consider the following:
Any snack worth eating should taste good. This statement might seem obvious, but a lot of people force themselves to eat foods they dislike when they’re trying to “eat healthy.” If you want the changes to stick, your first criteria should be that you like the new food.
Keep an open mind to explore options outside your comfort zone, but in the end, give your taste buds the final say.
Make sure you have easy access to the food you want to substitute. If it requires extensive prep work or it’s not available because of cost or location, you might want to keep looking for something that’s both tasty and accessible.
Fiber, Protein and Water
To find healthy snacks you love, start with your favorites and look for alternatives with more fiber, protein or water. They are more likely to fill you up, offer additional nutrients and reduce the overall impact on your blood sugar.
Fresh, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, are ideal, but you can also get extra fiber and protein from packaged snacks that are made with:
- Whole grains instead of refined flour
- Nuts, seeds and dried fruits
- Legumes and legume flours, such as lentil or chickpea
Sugar and Salt
Sugar and salt make everything taste good, but if you eat too much of either, they can damage your health. For most people, it helps to identify the salty and sweet things you love most. Make room in your diet for them by reducing the sources you don’t care for quite as much.
Just because a product says it’s high in protein, low in fat or “zero sugar” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Check the list of ingredients. Fewer ingredients is generally better. Look for the words “whole grains” and, ideally, you should recognize or be able to pronounce all of the ingredients. If it looks like a list of chemicals or has colors, such as yellow #5, it may not be the best choice for daily consumption.
Allergies and Sensitivities
There’s no such thing as a “bad” food unless it’s toxic or you have a specific reaction to it. Food is just food. The amount you eat and the way your body responds to those foods determine how healthy or unhealthy they are for you as an individual.
If you know an ingredient or category of food makes you sick, staying away from it might be effortless, but food that makes you just a little uncomfortable or sluggish can be more difficult to skip. If you suspect that a snack you eat regularly is interrupting your sleep or affecting your digestion, weight or energy levels, consider playing with your options in some of the common snack categories below.