Summer Time Fun and Snacks to Keep You Healthy
As summer is in full swing, many of us are planning what to do with our time off. Will you fly? Will you drive? Where will you stay, and what will you eat? Whether you’re taking a family vacation or a trip to the beach, an important, but often overlooked part in the planning is convenient but healthy snacks on hand while everyone is on the move.
There are several healthy guidelines for snacking, but first let’s understand why planning your snacks can be equally as important as planning everything else.
Snacking two to four hours between meals keeps your blood sugar stable, which can curb hunger and prevent overeating, and it can also provide a needed boost of energy if you’re busy and there’s a long time between meals. As you think about your day, plan to pack extra food for those periods where you’ll be unlikely to eat at your regular mealtime.
Next, think about what snacks will satisfy and be enjoyable enough to allow you not to think about food until your next meal. Simply put, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats all have different effects on our blood sugar levels, and more importantly, they peak at different times. Because of this, our energy levels and feelings of satisfaction vary at different times after we eat a meal.
For example, simple sugars (like soda and white flour) peak quickly—15 to 30 minutes after a meal. Complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and whole grains), peak around 1 to 1 1/2 hours afterward.
Protein and fat take even longer with protein peaking approximately three to four hours later, and fats up to 3 hours later. So, for energy that sticks around a while, choose a snack with a bit of everything-- complex carbohydrates to provide energy for an hour or so, and include some protein and fat to slow digestion down, and for more energy for later. Another good idea is to be sure your snack is filled with some fiber (if possible). Fiber keeps you full because it leaves the stomach slowly keeping you feeling satisfied longer.
So back to making choices that satisfy and last longer. If you pick a banana when you really want salty peanuts or a creamy yogurt—it may not actually satisfy you and then you’ll end up wanting more. Planning snacks that fulfill your energy needs and taste good are equally important. Some good choices to check all the boxes are:
- Salty and Savory: nuts, nut butter, cheese cubes
- Crunchy: raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grain crackers, apple
- Creamy: yogurt, hummus, avocado
- Sweet: fresh fruit, dark chocolate
- Combinations: yogurt with fruit granola, trail mix, apples or banana with peanut butter
Keep in mind a snack should curb your hunger, but not make you feel too full and ruin your next meal. A good rule of thumb is about 150-200 calories.
Check out MyPlate Kitchen https://www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen to get some more tips and recipes for healthy snacks.
Mary Jo Reeser is a Registered Dietitian at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, and Grangerland, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.