By adding necessary nutrients and providing energy, the right snacks can have a significant positive impact on building a balanced diet. In a pinch, well-selected higher calorie snacks can even stand in for meals. And though it may seem counterintuitive, snacks can actually help dieters eat well and achieve weight loss goals by reducing bingeing through managing hunger.
The trick is to choose a snack that is both low in calories and satiating enough to combat hunger. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes the importance of incorporating nutrition and recommends choosing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy products into your meal plan.
Balanced Snacking Using the Five Food Groups:
- Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta: With today’s low-carb craze, this food group has received a bad rap. But whole grain is a great source of fiber, plus provides essential energy for snacking-on-the-go. Try a small bowl of whole-wheat pretzels, a slice of whole-wheat toast, or a few whole-grain crackers.
- Fruit: Fruit is delicious and refreshing and a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Snacking is the perfect opportunity to boost your daily intake. Fruit is also one of the simplest foods to prepare and comes in perfect, nature-made serving sizes. Try a fresh apple or orange, dried mango slices, or a summer fruit salad made of watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and drizzled with citrus juice.
- Vegetable: It’s no secret that vegetables are an important corner stone of a balanced diet and a powerful weight loss tool. But even with all the benefits, it can be challenging to incorporate the 3 to 5 recommended servings a day into your diet, especially if you only eat at meal times. Supplement your diet with veggie snacks to load up on healthy fiber and nutrients without adding a lot of calories. Try a bowl of sliced carrot sticks, a halved avocado, or fresh string beans.
- Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts: This food group is chock full of protein, which is essential to growth and healthy brain function. The trick is to choose wisely. Select a snack with lean protein instead of high in fats and cholesterol. Try a hard boiled egg, a handful of walnuts, or a scoop of almond butter
- Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese: Foods from this group are full of bone-strengthening calcium and other vitamin and minerals. Some studies even suggest that a dairy-rich diet may promote weight loss. Choose non-fat or low-fat options, and be sure to check the sugar content. Try: 2 small pieces of cheddar cheese, a cup of non-fat yogurt, or a glass of skim milk.
- “Snacks: How They Fit Into Your Wellness Plan”, The Mayo Clinic
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