Snacks That Boost Your Energy And Taste Great, Too!

Snacks and snacking get a bad rap in our overly health-conscious society. Snacks are full of calories... snacks spoil your appetite... snacking means you're eating junk food - not so! The truth is, nutritionists agree that our bodies need re-fueling every 3 to 4 hours, and a healthy snack gives you an energy boost and can help keep hunger under control so you aren't tempted to overeat later.

The secret to snacking smart is being prepared. Rather than scrambling when hunger hits, or hunting for the nearest vending machine, have healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand and ready to eat. Plan ahead for times you usually get hungry and be ready with an alternative... something as close to natural as you can get, without additives, extra fat or chemicals that add flavor and color, but no nutritional value.

Snacks that satisfy your sweet tooth and are still healthy:

1. Graham crackers (or other whole grain crackers)with low-fat chocolate milk
2. Fresh fruit
3. Smoothie made with skim milk and fresh fruit juice
4. Baked sweet potato
5. Animal crackers
6. Low-fat yogurt with fruit
7. Frozen juice popsicle

When it's something crunchy you crave, try these:

1. Peanut butter crackers or rice cakes
2. Cut up veggies with low-fat salad dressing
3. Pretzels
4. Breadsticks
5. Air popped popcorn
6. Handful of raisins and roasted peanuts
7. Pumpkin or sesame seeds

A few other healthy snacking options:

1. Vegetable or bean soup
2. Roast beef sandwich with mustard instead of mayo
3. Low-fat string cheese
4. Turkey sandwich on whole wheat pita
5. Baked potato topped with salsa and low-fat sour cream
6. Apple or banana slices with peanut butter
7. Whole grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese

Of course there are times when you simply can't plan ahead, but are struggling with a hunger that's demanding you get something NOW. Grocery shelves are stocked with items that say "all natural" or "light" but the only way you'll know for sure if these snacks live up to the advertising is to read the label - both front and back - to see what's inside. Power bars and energy drinks are everywhere now, but beware - these aren't always the nutritious snack they're touted to be. Many are highly processed, contain added fats or other substances that can make them just as nutritionally complete as a candy bar.

If you're only option is fast food - don't panic. These days, fast food outlets offer more healthy menu options than ever before. All you need do is keep your fast food snack as close to its natural state as possible - this means a baked potato over those fries... a smoothie over a milkshake; frozen yogurt over an ice cream. If you must, simply must, choose a high-calorie item - try controlling the portion size. Before you dig into that loaded cheeseburger, take 1/3 and put it aside, then enjoy the rest, knowing at least you're limiting the amount of high calorie, high fat food you're taking in.

Healthy snacking, just like healthy eating, takes practice, consistent effort and the real, sincere desire to make a change. But once you do, you'll stay energized and feel great - ready to take on whatever challenge your day might bring.

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About The Author, Valerie Slaugther
Valerie Slaughter, a veteran marathoner herself, runs a beginner marathon website and is the author of "You Want to Do What!?" For articles, tips and more information about how to stay fit, healthy and "lose weight", visit: