Our kids snack. Why shouldn’t we?
As a busy mother of two and a nutrition whisperer (technically, family and consumer science educator), I can assure you there are real benefits to smart snacking. According to Densie Webb, PhD, RD, “Research suggests nutritious snacks that fit into your client’s calorie needs may control weight and improve overall health.”1
Most Americans are falling short on key nutrients. Smart snacking can fill important nutrient gaps, as long as we stay within our caloric needs for the day.
One simple tip for smart snacking is just to mirror a meal, but make it mini. What does that mean? Focus on a serving of dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese), whole grains and a fruit or veggie. What does that look like? Here are five easy smart snacks for parents.
- Overnight Oats is a great mid-morning snack. Make it the night before and store in the fridge at work.
- A power parfait is great any time of the day. Keep yogurt and fruit on hand for a quick build, and even throw in whole grain cereal.
- Need a smart snack on the go? Nearly all quick-serve restaurants offer single serve low-fat or fat-free milk and fruit.
- Swing through a convenience store to pick up milk and a trail mix or popcorn.
- But, let’s get real. Sometimes caffeine is calling your sleep-deprived name. Making a coffee beverage with 8 ounces of low-fat or fat-free milk, either hot or iced, will not only satisfy that caffeine craving, but will provide 8 grams of high quality protein to power you on to the next activity. Make this coffee concoction yourself, or swing through nearly any corner establishment. Watch out for the add-ons, which pack on calories. Also, skip the milk alternative and go for the real cow’s milk for the most nutrient bang for your buck.
You may be wondering if snacking just adds pounds, because most of what we think of as “snack foods” are higher in calories and lower in nutrients. But smart snacking can help keep us from overeating. Remember, we aren’t getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health. So, focus on the quality of the snack. Be a smart snacker with dairy, whole grains and fruits or veggies.
- Webb, PhD, RD, Densie. Snacking Benefits. Today’s Dietitian. 2013