How to Choose Healthy Snacks

Five Parts:Taking a Food InventoryAnalyzing Your FoodPracticing Self-AwarenessShopping SuggestionsEmploying Smart Strategies

Eating the right snacks is an important part of a healthy diet. By purchasing healthy foods you can enable yourself to choose healthy snacks to help fuel your body. With a little planning and a few adjustments to your eating habits, you can learn how to choose healthy snacks for you and your family.

Part 1
Taking a Food Inventory

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    Take a good look into your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Which types of items make up the majority of your foods? How many healthy snacks are available? How many unhealthy snacks do you see?
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    Make a list of all of the unhealthy snacks that you can find. Include any boxes of snack cakes, cookies, muffins or other such items that are made for snacking. Add to that list as many snacks as you can recall purchasing or making recently.
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    Add healthy snacks to another list. This list should include many green vegetables, a variety of fruits, whole grain foods, lean meats, unsalted nuts etc. Compare this list to the list of unhealthy snacks, and start to think about what you do and do not need to stay healthy.

Part 2
Analyzing Your Food

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    Look over your list to see how many changes you need to make to your snacking habits. Do you need to make only slight improvements in your snacking choices or a major overhaul in the snack department? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle?
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    Circle all the snack items that could easily be replaced with healthier snacks or ingredients. For example, a bag of nacho cheese flavored fried potato chips can easily be replaced with natural, baked tortilla corn chips.
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    Put a line through all the items that are completely unnecessary and indulgent. Candy bars, for example, are a food that could be eliminated from your diet, except for on special occasions.
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    Eat unprocessed snacks to fuel your body the entire day. For example, choose baked sweet potatoes, plain yoghurt, sliced apples, air-popped popcorn, baby carrots, and other fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Part 3
Practicing Self-Awareness

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    Consider your snacking habits. Knowing why you snack is an important part of learning how to change your snacking habits. Ask yourself: Am I a late-night snacker? Am I an emotional snacker? Am I a boredom snacker? You should also think about how busy you are, and try to prepare some healthy snacks in advance if you're not going to have time to make them for when you're hungry.
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    Look at the snacks that you tend to desire most often. Knowing your snacking style will make it easier for you to find suitable substitutes that are healthy and meet your snacking needs. For example, if you find yourself reaching for greasy potato chips, try some less fattening tortilla chips with a serving of salsa.
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    Develop a routine of self control. Focus less on food. If you look forward to coming home and having a bowl of ice cream to unwind, try a healthy replacement like yogurt or sorbet to help you relax. Think of eating as a necessity, not a comfort--only eat when you are actually hungry.

Part 4
Shopping Suggestions

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    Begin with a plan to alter your choices of snacks when you make your next trip to the grocery store. You can discover healthy substitutes by exploring the products in the store. You may discover alternatives that you didn’t know were available.
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    Read and compare the labels on packaged snacks. Look at all of the ingredients. A label that claims it has all-natural ingredients does not always mean it is a healthy choice. An example of this would be a fruit juice. Too much sugar content offers little nutrition and higher calories than you may need or want, even if the sugar is in an all-natural form.
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    Avoid indulgent purchases. Organic may be healthier, but it can still be an unnecessary and indulgent snack. Choosing a package of cookies just because they are organic will do nothing to improve your snacking habits. Stick with healthy food choices and avoid purchasing items that you can easily do without.

Part 5
Employing Smart Strategies

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    Make your snacks count. Choose filling options. Food with high fiber content will generally be more filling with fewer calories. Low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are all good choices for quick snacks.
    • Make your snacks out of whole, unprocessed foods likes fruits, vegetables, lean meats (skinless chicken breasts, for example), nuts, beans, eggs, and whole grains.
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    Think about energy. Complex carbohydrates such as protein-rich snacks like peanut butter or low-fat cheese pack a powerful energy punch.
    • Snacks rich in protein such as cottage cheese, almonds, and eggs will keep you full longer.
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    Watch portion sizes. Eating healthy snacks does not give you a free ticket to indulge too much. Overeating is never a healthy option. And if you slip and eat something unhealthy, don't beat yourself up! It's all about balance; don't eat too much or too little of either healthy or unhealthy foods.


  • Make sure to eat before you leave for the grocery store! If you go shopping while hungry, you are much more prone to buying junk food.
  • Understand what you are buying. Low-fat does not always mean low-calorie. Calorie-free does not always offer nutritional value.
  • Don't engage in the practice of social eating. If you're at a party, avoid the appetizer dishes. Finger foods usually have massive amounts of calories, especially if you eat a lot of them.
  • Catch yourself! Whenever you go to get something, think "Could I be eating something healthier?
  • Remember to reward yourself with an occasional indulgence so as not to become resentful of your dietary changes. We all need to treat ourselves to something special periodically.
  • Keep some gum handy. A 5-calorie stick of gum is a huge step up from the hundreds you might consume from an unnecessary snack. Strongly flavored teas, such as peppermint, can also help because they take away the dryness of your taste buds and give you a sense of having enjoyed something.
  • Incorporate variety into your diet. Change your salad dressings every so often, and shop for unusual fruits and vegetables at an ethnic specialty store. Look through cookbooks and find some new snack recipes you can try making yourself.
  • Eat foods from every food category in a recommended amount.
  • Avoid snacks high in refined sugar, fat, sodium, or refined flour (enriched bleached flour or bleached flour) frequently because they are full of empty of calories and lead to fat gain and type 2 diabetes. Your insulin levels will be out of whack which cause the feeling of tiresome and sluggishness.
  • Oil is liquid fat, but it is the kind of fat that your body needs. It is known as unsaturated fat, and is your best choice compared to saturated and trans fat--remember this while looking at ingredients. Organic oils from olives, grape seeds, coconuts, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, and avocados are all good sources of nutrients.
  • Eat snacks that are 100-200 calories each and contain several vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber. Check the labels.


  • Ice cream in particular can be an addictive trap. Once you are used to having it every day, you begin to crave it. To curtail this problem, don't allow yourself daily access to ice cream (i.e. don't keep it in your freezer regularly).
  • Avoid corn, cottonseed, and canola oils, as these are often genetically modified. Additionally, peanut oil often has very high levels of pesticide residues.
  • Check with your health care provider if a change in your diet seems to have altered your health in a negative manner.
  • Stay away from anything that has high fructose corn syrup. This is an artificial sugar that contains several health hazards. Agave should also be avoided if you do not want fructose, as agave, advertised as a "healthy and natural" sweetener, also has a high amount of fructose.[1]

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Categories: Food Selection and Storage | Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating