Snacks that Satisfy
By CommuniCare, Cristine D. Saks, MS, RD
Have you ever felt hungry between meals, eaten a few crackers, and then felt hungry again a little while later? This frustrating phenomenon can end up causing overeating as you continue to try to combat your hunger. However, with the right combination of foods, you can prevent overeating between meals and feel satisfied after eating a snack.
Think of a snack as a small meal. If snacks fulfill their purpose, they should provide enough energy to keep you going until your next main meal. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are therefore digested and absorbed very quickly on their own. This is the reason why a few crackers will not give lasting energy. Fats and proteins, on the other hand, are digested and absorbed more slowly. Therefore, the key to a satisfying snack is to pair carbohydrates with a lean protein or healthy fat.
To get an extra boost of satisfaction choose fiber-rich foods and whole fruits and vegetables, rather than dried. Fiber, a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, is not digestible by the body and adds bulk to the foods we eat. In addition, the water content in whole fruits and vegetables also helps fill us up. Lastly, to make sure your healthy snack doesn’t turn unhealthy, choose nuts, seeds, or nut/seed butters without added oils, sugar, and salt.
Here are a few examples of some healthy snacks to get you started: whole grain toast with avocado or nut/seed butter, fruit or popcorn paired with 1 ounce of nuts, whole grain crackers and cheese, raw veggies dipped in hummus or guacamole.
It may seem simple, but by making this small shift, you will feel satisfied and energized to continue through your day. So, don’t forget, pair up a carbohydrate with a lean protein or healthy fat and kill those mid-meal hunger pangs!
Cristine Saks is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing in the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program at CommuniCare Health Centers. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from St. Mary’s University and a Master of Science in Nutrition from University of the Incarnate Word.