If late afternoon hunger pangs leave you longing for a snack, there’s no reason to deny yourself. Just be sure to choose foods that fit into a heart-healthy eating pattern.
“Snacks help bridge the gap between meals,” says Liz Moore, a dietitian at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. A small snack in the afternoon curbs your appetite so you’re not completely starving when you sit down to dinner, she explains. That can help you control your portion sizes and avoid overeating—a common cause of weight gain. “If you eat lunch at noon and are planning to meet a friend for dinner at 7 or 8 p.m., have a snack between 4 and 5 p.m.,” she suggests.
|Healthy snack suggestionsWhen choosing snacks, select whole foods with little processing, and look for the healthiest sources of fats, carbs, and protein. For example:8 ounces plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and a sprinkle of granola1½ ounces trail mix with dried cherries, dark chocolate, and walnuts¼ cup hummus with 1 cup fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, broccoli florets, and cherry tomatoes1 slice whole-grain flatbread with 1 tablespoon almond butter and 1 teaspoon fruit spread1 banana, sliced and spread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter1 cup of cooked oatmeal with a dusting of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon raisins, and ½ cup low-fat milk or soy milkLow-fat string cheese with an apple or small bunch of grapes1 cup edamame* in the shell*Edamame are soybeans that are harvested while they are still green. Look in the freezer section for unsalted, precooked edamame, either as whole pods or shelled. Once thawed, squeeze the pod to release the beans, which you can eat as a snack or add to salads or other recipes.|
Smarter snack choices
Most health-conscious people steer clear of junk food like salty, greasy chips. But they might not realize that low-fat, low-salt potato chips or pretzels aren’t really a great substitute. “Those types of snacks usually don’t satisfy your hunger because they contain just simple carbohydrates,” says Moore. Low-fiber, easily digested carbs found in refined grains tend to raise your blood sugar, which can leave you hungry again in a few hours.
The most healthful snacks contain a combination of healthy proteins, carbs, and fats. Think whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter (see “Healthy snack suggestions” for more ideas). A small serving of leftovers—like stir-fried vegetables, tuna salad, or soup—also makes a good snack, says Moore.
Make your own
If you crave something crunchy, popcorn can be a good choice, provided you avoid prepackaged popcorn in bags or microwave popcorn, which often contains lots of salt and unhealthy fats. It’s easy and far cheaper to make your own. Just toss a small handful of popcorn kernels into a small paper bag, fold over the top, and place in the microwave. Use the “popcorn” setting if your microwave has one, or cook on high for two to three minutes, or until the popping slows to a few seconds between pops. (Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t scorch or burn.)
Instead of butter, you can spray the cooked kernels with a little olive oil, using an oil mister, says Moore. “You can also sprinkle on herbs, spices, or a little grated Parmesan cheese,” she says. (For a different, higher-protein snack idea, see “Spicy roasted chickpeas.”)
If you have a sweet tooth, savor your favorite treat in moderation—like a small square of dark chocolate. If you love ice cream, have a kid-size cone once in a while as a treat.
|Spicy roasted chickpeasTry this recipe for an easy, inexpensive snack that’s rich in fiber and protein. All you need is a can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), a little olive oil, and spices (garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, curry powder, or any others you like).1. Preheat oven to 375° F.2. Drain the chickpeas in a colander or strainer and rinse under running water.3. Spread the chickpeas on a large baking sheet.4. Drizzle with about one tablespoon of olive oil and stir to coat evenly.5. Sprinkle with your choice of spices.6. Roast for 15 to 30 minutes, to desired crispness.7. Store at room temperature in a resealable bag or container.|
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Romans 12:2 ESV Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Philippians 4:8 ESV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Isaiah 26:3 ESV You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Proverbs 4:23 ESV Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Romans 12:1-2 ESV I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 7:23 ESV But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Matthew 21:22 ESV And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
James 1:8 ESV He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
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