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Healthy Everyday Snacks for your Family

In some households, snacking is a bad word. Indeed, some parents take the old-fashioned approach to snacks – that is, that they’ll ruin your appetite and spoil your dinner!

Nutritional experts, however, maintain that snacking is essential to make it through the day and adhere to the principal that snacks can be beneficial, even for someone who is attempting weight loss. Snacking – in general – is not a bad concept. It’s the choices you make that can determine whether the snack is good for you or not.

Advantages of Snacking

Doctors and nutritionists say you needn’t feel guilty when it comes to snacking, especially if you give some advance thought as to what that snack will be. The benefits of snacks include:

o Extra energy – There are certain times of the day where we “bottom out” and lack the energy we need to continue with our daily tasks. Eating a small non-sugary snack can reinvigorate us and help us make it until the end of the work or school day.

o Helps eliminate overeating – Those who have embarked on weight loss programs that discourage snacks know that you tend to overeat when your stomach is feeling empty. Just a small snack that temporarily satisfies your hunger pangs can keep you from eating too much or making the wrong choices at lunch or dinner time.

Choosing the Right Snacks

While a sugary treat is an acceptable snack once in a while, you’ll find that high fat, high sugar foods make you or your children sleepier and do little to provide that extra zip you might need in the middle of the day. So you’ll want to be sure to avoid that type of snack. The best way to do that is not to buy them or to keep them tucked away in a cupboard. The old adage says: “Out of sight, out of mind.” If sweet snacks are in plain view, you or your children will eat them.

Instead, offer healthier choices. Actually, “choice” is the operative word here. If you want to be sure your family is eating healthy snacks, provide them with a plethora of choices so they don’t get tired of the same old same old.

Convenience is also essential when planning snacks. If you have healthy snacks readily available and prepared, your family will be more likely to choose them. For example, if your kids like carrot or celery sticks, cut them up in advance and put a small portion in a baggie so that all you or your children need to do is grab the bag. Same goes for other snacks. A large bag of crackers can be divided up and put into smaller bags and large blocks of cheese can be made into small cubes. For an after school or midday snack, family members can grab a bag of each.

Above all, don’t let your family snack on things straight out of the bag or other container. An open bag of chips or pretzels, for example, is an invitation to overeat.  
If you don’t have time to package foods on your own, look for pre-packaged, healthy, low-calorie foods at your grocery store. These days, many snacks come in 100-calorie portions, including pudding, snack crackers, and even cookies. These are a great choice and you’ll find many varieties that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.

If you have healthy leftovers remaining from a previous meal, you can use those for snacks as well. Last night’s pasta, for example, makes an excellent snack and is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which provide lots of energy. Also let kids snack on small portions of healthy leftover meats, like roast chicken or rolled up slices of luncheon meats.