Quit munching mindlessly, start snacking sensibly

Posted by Allie Wergin, R.D.N.
April 24, 2015

Allyn Mahowald RDN

When snacking is done correctly, it can give you a boost of energy between meals, help meet nutrient needs for the day and help keep hunger at bay to prevent overeating at the next meal. And managing your hunger can help you maintain a healthy weight and reach weight-loss goals.

Snacking tips:

Plan your snacks. Keep a variety of nutrient-rich, ready-to-eat foods nearby to snack on when hunger hits. This will help to lessen the temptation of less-healthy options from the vending machine, break room or convenience stores. Ideas include fresh fruit, air-popped popcorn, fat-free or low-fat yogurt, and nut mixes.

Snack for hunger — not because of stress or boredom.  It’s typical to be hungry 3-4 hours after a meal. When you feel hunger setting in, be sure to ask yourself, “Am I physically hungry, or am I mind hungry (bored, stress, or frustrated)?” before you grab for a snack. If you find you are in fact experiencing physical hunger, it’s time to grab a filling, satisfying snack. If you identify you were reaching for a snack because of mind hunger, — oftentimes boredom or stress — feed the urge by doing another activity, such as going for a walk.

Make snacks count. Choose nutrient-dense foods that will help fill the nutrient gaps in your eating plan. Focus on incorporating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Choose these options  rather than packaged items high in calories, fat and sodium, like chips, candy or cookies.

Snack on sensible portions. To keep portion sizes in check, purchase single-serve containers or put small servings of snacks into a bowl rather than eating directly from the package. Eating out of a package can often lead to mindless eating and can result in eating more than intended.  

Try to combine carbohydrates, protein and fat for long-lasting, satisfying snacks. Aim for snacks to be less than 200 calories.

Easy snack ideas:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter and slices of medium apple
  • Small banana and 16 almonds
  • ¼ cup mashed avocado and whole grain toast
  • ¾ cup plain Greek Yogurt and 1 cup berries
  • 6 whole wheat crackers and 1 ounce of cheese (typically one slice)
  • One 6 inch whole wheat tortilla, ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 10 baby carrots +and2 tablespoons Hummus
  • 3 cups air popped popcorn sprinkled with 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Pear and string cheese
  • 1 cup plain oatmeal and ½ cup mixed berries

Recipe: Brown sugar and nutmeg roasted chickpeas*

Roasted chickpeas make for a snack that’s high in protein and fiber.


  • Two15.5 ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Using a paper towel or clean dish towel, thoroughly dry the chickpeas. The drier the chickpeas are, the more the seasoning mix will stick. Place chickpeas on a cookie sheet or sheet tray in a single layer.
  3. Drizzle canola oil over the chickpeas, tossing to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle on brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Toss to combine, and ensure all chickpeas are coated in the sugar and spices.
  4. Bake for a total of 45-50 minutes, tossing chickpeas carefully every 15 minutes.
  5. Chickpeas are done when they are golden brown and crunchy.

Nutrition Information:

Serving size: ½ cup

Serves: 7

Calories: 205; Total fat: 5 grams; Saturated fat: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 433 milligrams; Carbohydrates: 33 grams; Fiber: 8 grams; Sugars: 9 grams; Protein: 9 grams; Potassium: 144 milligrams; Phosphorus: 101 milligrams

*This recipe is courtesy of foodandnutrition.org

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