Whether your goal is to lose weight or simply stay well, we often tend to think of meal planning when focusing on healthy eating. Then between meals, when hunger meets our busy days, it’s easy to reach for the most convenient snack. Suddenly all our great meal planning is spoiled by the bag of chips that seemed like the simplest solution.
The doctors of Gaston Medical Partners often work with patients to discuss healthy eating habits and how diet can impact all our wellness goals. They’ve also worked to develop their own healthy snack habits. Spending all day focused on patient care means doctors are often snacking throughout the day as opposed to having a dedicated meal, so we asked the Gaston physicians to share their own tips for healthy snack planning.
With a little forethought and by following these three suggestions, reaching for a healthy snack can be just as simple as hitting the vending machine.
1. Keep It Bite-Sized
When we’re on the go, snacks have to be simple to eat. Dr. Jessica Kafer loves granola, so her snack version of that go-to food is the granola bite. Even if she plans in advance to have all the ingredients on-hand, having the chance to sit down with a bowl and spoon is not always an option. Having a bite-sized snack assures that even when you’re on the move, the snack you’ve planned can come with you.
Dr. Kafer says her favorite coconut granola bites are healthy but so tasty she feels like she’s eating candy. Since it’s high in fats that can increase metabolism, coconut can promote weight loss – just make sure it has no added sugar. Sugar-laden snacks can leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry.
2. Make It Crunch
When your snack crunches, the sound subconsciously makes you more aware of what you’re eating, helping portion control. When you’re busy and snacking at the same time, it’s easy to just mindlessly munch away without realizing how much you’re eating.
Crunchy snacks don’t have to mean chips. Fresh veggies make a great snack option, says Dr. Brian Wysong who often packs baby carrots for a mid-day reprieve. Apple slices, celery sticks and bell peppers can also deliver that crunch you crave from a snack food.
3. Incorporate Protein
While sugary snacks can leave you still feeling hungry, a high-protein food is key to keeping you satisfied throughout the day. Dr. Gregory O’Leary can often be found snacking on almonds, which are high in protein, meaning even a small portion can keep you full. Plus, with no refrigeration needed, you can throw them in your bag at the beginning of the day or keep them in a desk drawer.
Dr. Derek Reed likes to combine fruit with a protein-rich food, like bananas and natural peanut butter. Greek yogurt is also protein-packed, making Dr. David Locklear’s favorite yogurt-covered raisins both protein-friendly and snackable.
Healthy snacking can still be simple once you find your favorite go-to foods. By thinking ahead, you can eliminate the urge to grab something that will ruin the effort you’ve put into all your other healthy lifestyle choices.
Maintaining a quality diet is a key part to overall health and can help you achieve goals, from reaching your optimal weight to staying heart healthy or reducing cholesterol. Don’t hesitate to bring your trusted primary care doctor into the conversation to make healthy eating and snacking part of your full wellness plan.