5 ways to combat hunger between meals

Snacking is part of our daily lifestyles, making up half of all eating occasions, according to a 2014 report from The Hartman Group. With snacking on the rise, healthy eating is often a challenge. However, when done in moderation with nutritious options, grazing can help you maintain energy throughout the day and ensure your body gets the calories and nutrients it needs. To nosh the sensible way, follow these simple tips.

*Plan ahead. When it comes to eating a well-rounded diet, preparation is the first step toward success. Prior planning ensures decent choices are at your fingertips and helps you avoid the temptation of purchasing junk food. Before taking a trip to the local market, create a list packed with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Once finalized, stick to it!

*Mix it up. Now more than ever, Americans are incorporating smoothies into their diets. The latest Vitamix research shows Americans consumed a whopping 7.4 billion smoothies last year alone—and that trend is growing. Perfect for taking on the go, smoothies are easy to make and packed with nutrients. These satiating snacks allow us to consume healthy selections, such as citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, almonds, chia seeds and flaxseed—all in one delicious drink. When the 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. craving hits, indulge in your healthful smoothie.

*Go nuts. How you fuel your body can make a difference in how you feel. Foods such as nuts and seeds are high in protein, so opt for a handful of raw almonds, pumpkin seeds or a seed and nut mix to keep you full between meals.

Nut butters provide a sweet and salty fix and are another great way to add a dose of protein and healthy fat. Use a Vitamix to blend fresh peanut, almond or cashew butters and store in your refrigerator for easy access. Spread a serving on a banana, celery or cracker, and voila you’ve got a balanced snack! You can also blend a dab of nut butter in your smoothie for a quick flavor boost.

*Snacks to stash. Whether you are hauling your children from practice to practice, juggling multiple projects at work or studying for exams, stress may bring mindless munching. Luckily, there are plenty of favorites you can make yourself that can satisfy your cravings in a more healthy manner.

If you’re a fan of chips, consider baking your own, which will enable control over fat and sodium content, and allow you to consume all-natural ingredients. Pita chips hold up to dips and sauces such as spicy hummus, guacamole or mayo salsa, which are loaded with nutrients and provide an alternative to calorie-laden selections. Other chip varieties to consider are sweet potato and kale.

For those who crave sweets, wholesome, make-ahead options include homemade granola bars with dates, raisins, grains and seeds or DIY dried fruit.

*Satisfy your hunger. Eating well doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Choose items that are packed with fiber, protein or slow-digesting carbs to help you stay satisfied longer. Hardboiled eggs, air-popped popcorn and oatmeal are great options.

Thoughtful snacking allows you to maintain a balanced eating regime, which helps with energy, mood and weight control. Nosh like a nutritionist and use quick bites to strategically maximize your nutrient intake. Create versatile and simple snacks to enjoy at home or on the go with the tasty recipes listed below.

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