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Healthy Snacks: Tips and Recipes

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Updated May 18, 2012

Sometimes the hardest part of being on a diet isn't mealtime, but the time between meals when you are tempted to each too much of the wrong foods. Even if you only choose to bring healthy snacks into your home, there may be high calorie, high fat food at work or at social events. Holiday parties, summer barbeques, or Super Bowl parties can be a significant challenge to your weight loss success.

The best defense is to combine snack tips and healthy snack recipes. By combining lifestyle strategies with low calorie foods, you'll be more likely to keep your diet on track.

Healthy Snack Tips

Put your snacks on a plate. Even healthy snacks can contribute to weight gain if you eat too much of them. Try to avoid eating directly out of a bowl or serving dish, which can lead to overeating. Choose small portions of a few healthy foods and put them on a small individual plate so you can easily monitor the amount of food you are eating.
  • Healthy Snack Recipe: Mock Hummus
    Mock hummus is full of protein and fiber, but low in calories. This recipe contains the healthy chickpeas that are in traditional hummus but eliminates tahini, which is high in fat. If you're at a party, serve the hummus in a large bowl with a serving spoon so that guests can take just a moderate portion to eat with toasted whole-wheat pita bread or vegetables.

    • 1 can drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
    • 1T extra virgin olive oil
    • Chicken stock
    • Salt and white pepper to taste
    Add the chickpeas to a food processor. As the beans are processing, add the olive oil and continue to process until the beans form a thick paste. Add chicken stock one tablespoon at a time until the hummus achieves a smooth spreadable consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Avoid mindless eating. Try not to eat in front of the television or computer. It's easy to lose track of how much you're eating when you're not paying attention to the food. You end up eating on autopilot. One study published by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that even when movie viewers were given stale popcorn, they ate just as much as they would have if they had fresh popcorn, simply because their eating habits were ingrained.

So what do you do if you are at a Super Bowl party or watching a movie with friends? Sit further away from the coffee table that might be loaded up with chip bowls and dip. Try to save healthy snacks for halftime or intermission.

  • Healthy Snack Recipe: Lettuce Wraps
    This recipe requires some preparation at the time you eat it because the wraps are eaten taco-style. This makes it harder to eat without paying attention to the amount of food that you are actually consuming.

Fill up on fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits and vegetables make the best healthy snacks. They are low in calories and generally high in fiber. Fill up on these foods first before even looking at higher-calorie snacks. If you are invited to an event, offer to bring a colorful fruit or vegetable display so you know that there will be a selection of healthy snacks to eat.

  • Healthy Snack Recipe: Seasonal Vegetable Tray
    Move beyond carrots and celery, and add brighter veggies to your snack tray. Visit a local farmers' market or speak to the produce manager at your local grocery story to find varieties of vegetables that are new to you. Blanch asparagus to bring out its bright green color. Cut red peppers into rings. Slice yellow squash at a 30-degree angle to give it a decorative look. Arrange the veggies on a platter with the Mock Hummus dip in the center.

Limit alcohol. Not only are alcoholic drinks loaded with calories, but the more you drink, the harder it is to exercise discipline when you are around snack foods that you crave. If you are at an event where friends will be drinking, choose one lower-calorie drink, such as a glass of wine or light beer. Then refill your glass with sparkling water or club soda with lime.

  • Healthy Snack Recipe: Sangria
    Try this Low Sugar Sangria with Agave Nectar or experiment with your own sangria recipe. Add wedges of fresh fruit, such as peaches, apples, pineapple, strawberries, or raspberries to your favorite white or red wine. After combining those ingredients, chill overnight, then add sparkling water or club soda before serving.

Sources:

Dan Ariely, Michael I. Norton. "From thinking too little to thinking too much: a continuum of decision making." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science , 2:39-46.

David T. Neal, Wendy Wood, Mengju Wu, David Kurlande. "The Pull of the Past, When Do Habits Persist Despite Conflict With Motives?" Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin August 22, 2011

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