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 Nutrition  HolisticOnline.com

Nutrition Infocenter

Easy Snack Ideas for a Healthy Diet

By Erin Rogers

Most experts agree that snacking is a part of a balanced and healthy diet, as long as the snacks don't pile on empty calories. Like any other part of your diet, it's important to put some thought into what kind of snacks to have on hand; otherwise it's all too easy to pick something high-calorie, high-fat, or high-sugar.

It's a good idea to not let yourself get too hungry before eating a meal or snack, since this is a surefire way to encourage overeating. Drinking sufficient water throughout the day (8-10 glasses is generally recommended) will not only serve to keep you well-hydrated, but will also help you feel less hungry. Another good idea is to include some protein with your snacks, as this will help keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.

Following are some ideas for different types of snacks. You may be hungry for different kinds of snacks at different times, or on different days. Pick what sounds best, what you have on hand, and what fits best into your eating plan or strategy.

Crunchy/Salty:

* Flavored popcorn or rice cakes 

* Pretzels (with or without some honey mustard dip) 

* Light microwave popcorn 

* Baked tortilla chips with salsa

Fruits& Veggies:

* An apple (with or without some caramel dipping sauce) 

* Sliced strawberries with fat-free half and half 

* Raw veggies (try a dip with ranch seasoning and fat-free sour cream) 

* Frozen grapes

Dairy:

* String cheese 

* Light yogurt 

* Chocolate milk (made with low-fat milk)

* Cottage cheese with canned pineapple

Drinks:

* Banana-chocolate whip (In a blender, combine 1 cup fat-free milk, 1 small banana, and a squeeze of chocolate syrup. Optional: toss in a few ice cubes for a frostier concoction) 

* Orange whip (In a blender, combine, 1 cup orange juice, 1 carton orange nonfat yogurt, and a few ice cubes) 

* Light Root Beer Float (Diet root beer with 1 cup low-fat ice cream 

* Steaming mug of fat-free hot chocolate/cocoa (with added calcium)

Sweets:

* 2 whole wheat fig bars (look for these in the organic food section) 

* 2 low-fat graham crackers spread with 1 T. chocolate frosting 

* 3 Hershey's kisses 

* Animal crackers (1/2 small box) and a cup of low-fat milk

I recommend keeping a list of your favorite healthy snacking ideas, either on your refrigerator, in your purse, on your computer, or even your PDA. Sometimes it's hard to think of a good snack option. With your list, you'll never have to worry again and it will help with shopping, too!

Related Information: Holisticonline.com Healthy Recipes Infocenter for recipes on healthy foods from around the world.

Erin Rogers, a work-at-home mom of two, is the founder of Health-E-Meals.com, providing practical healthy living resources for busy people. She's also the author of the Healthy Express Cookbook: 101 Fresh, Light & Quick Dinners (http://www.health-e-meals.com).  Erin can be reached via email at erin@health-e-meals.com.

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