The holiday season is upon us and if you are a snacker (most Americans are), this season will might be a challenge for you. Snackers tend to eat throughout the day; grazing rather than opting for three “square” meals. You may think that snacking is a diet destroyer or healthy lifestyle pitfall, but it doesn’t have to be. Snacking can actually help you stay on track toward your health goal. The secret is in the snack you pick.
During the holiday season, there seems to be an abundance of snacks high in refined sugars and refined grains (think egg nog and fruit cake at Christmas and jelly doughnuts at Chanukkah). But snacks do not need to be full of sugar and fat in order to be deemed a snack. It’s time to rethink that vision! Snacks should be considered mini meals; lots of nutrients packed into smaller portions than a traditional meal. They don’t necessarily need to come in a snack bag either. In fact, they can literally be a mini meal: Think a half of a turkey sandwich or a yogurt with granola. Both are nutritious and run you around 200 calories. Comparing a mini-meal snack to a traditional snack, the calories may be the same, but there are some major differences. Take a look:
A glazed doughnut from a leading national doughnut shop provides
14 grams of fat,
3 grams of protein, and
1 gram of fiber.
A mini meal comprised of a yogurt parfait made with plain yogurt, fresh strawberries and granola contains
5 grams of fat,
17 grams of protein, and
4 grams of fiber.
The doughnut delivers a hefty dose of fat – 48% of calories coming from fat, while the mini meal contributes a healthy dose of fat – 19% of calories coming from fat. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, adults should consume no more than 20%-35% of calories from fat. The yogurt parfait keeps you within the guidelines while the doughnut exceeds them. As for the comparison of protein, the parfait wins hands-down! The yogurt parfait mini meal provides a protein equivalent of a small piece of chicken or a few egg whites!
By eating a mini-meal snack, rather than a traditional snack, you can support your body by keeping your blood sugar stable and your appetite satiated – which will keep you on track toward your health goals and help you avoid the holiday weight gain creep.
Looking for a few mini meal snacks to keep you on track? Try one of these:
- A handful of raw almonds and a whole fruit
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter
- A bowl of black bean or lentil soup
- A hummus sandwich on half of a whole wheat pita with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes
- An ounce of cheddar cheese and apple wedges
The trick is to watch your portion sizes. Eat one serving, and if you are still hungry, head over to the veggie platter and snack until you are satisfied. Don’t deny yourself the holiday treats, but don’t gorge on them either. And if you are going to a holiday party and you are not sure if the host will be serving vegetables, offer to bring a platter! You can also eat before you go to curb your hunger and stave off overeating. Why not have that yogurt parfait? Here’s how to make it:
Holiday Snacking Saver Yogurt Parfait
5 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries
¼ cup low-fat granola
In a glass, place 1/3 of the yogurt. Next, layer half of the sliced strawberries. Add 1/3 of the yogurt on top of the strawberries and top that with ½ of the granola. Add the remainder of the yogurt and top it with the remainder of the strawberries and granola for an appetizing, delicious and nutritious mini-meal snack.
Happy holidays and happy snacking!
Do you have any holiday snacking tips to share?
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