Healthy Snacks and Lunches
On the Go
by Nancy Hearn
Healthy snack - nuts, seeds, dried fruit
As a nutritionist, I have found that people are confused about the numerous choices for healthy snacks on the go, as well as for what to include in bag lunches that are both satisfying and easy to prepare.
Regardless of whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or a meat eater, the principles of healthy eating are essentially the same.
Our bodies need a certain amount of protein, healthy fats, and carbs. The amounts and types of these nutrients you need on a daily basis depends on your particular metabolic type, dietary preferences, as well as your activity level.
However, the first step is to know how to choose healthier foods. The following are my top 10 tips for healthy snacks.
Top 10 Tips
- Water. Drink plenty of filtered water to keep the body hydrated and to flush toxins from your system. The general guideline is a minimum of 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day (or half your weight in ounces).
- Fresh food. Carry a soft-sided cooler so that you can eat primarily whole, fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Choose foods that are nutrient dense and avoid fast foods, fried foods, and processed foods as much as possible.
- Avoid these. Avoid foods that are high in flour, sugar, sodium, and trans fats (check the labels). These include foods such as most breads, muffins, cookies, chips, crackers, and just about every type of packaged or processed food.
- Healthy fats. Instead look for healthy fat alternatives, which will provide satiation and help curb starch and sugar cravings. Healthy fat foods include raw nuts and nut butters, avocados or guacamole, olives and olive spreads, and cheeses (preferably organic or raw). The best cheese choices are the softer ones such as goat cheese, cottage cheese, and Jarlsberg light Swiss cheese.
- Carb cravings. Healthy carbohydrate alternatives include high-fiber crackers such as Wasa crackers, nut thins, rice crackers, or sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel bread. The high-fiber crackers pair well with the healthy fat spreads, such as guacamole, olive tapenade, hummus, and goat cheese. A favorite snack choice for active outings is homemade trail mix with roasted oats, nuts, and dried fruit.
- Nutrient balance. Eat a balance of carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat. Your nutrient requirements depend on your own metabolic needs and level of activity. Choosing a variety of foods is your best bet.
- Finger food. Cut apples, carrots, cucumbers, and celery stalks filled with nut butter or goat cheese are examples of easy “finger food” that balance each other nutritionally.
- Protein regularly. Eat some form of protein every two to three hours. Protein will not only help you maintain strength, but it will help regulate your insulin and blood sugar levels. For a quick and easy protein snack, raw almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts are good choices.
- Food combining. Avoid combining animal protein with bread or other starches. Instead choose lean protein, such as turkey, chicken or tuna, along with a variety of raw vegetables and some healthy fat, such as olives, cream cheese, or dips. Or choose an open-faced vegetarian sandwich, with hummus, nut butter, avocado and/or cheese with lettuce and sprouts. Also, eat fresh fruit by itself; it does not combine well with any other food.
- Beverages. Most beverages, including natural fruit juice, are full of concentrated sugar. Eat the whole fruit instead of drinking juices. If you do drink fruit juice, dilute it 50-50 with filtered water. Herbal and fruit teas sweetened with stevia or xylitol (as needed) are a better choice than juice or soda. However, clean water is still the best option.
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