Dieting is hard work. Snacking and feeding your cravings is one of the hardest habits to kick. But it is possible! One way to help is to know what’s best to snack on, and how to create your own healthy snacks. So, we’ve put together a healthy snacks list full of healthy snack ideas to keep you on the straight and narrow.
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You start a new diet with the best intentions, but, after a few days the cravings for all the stuff you gave up start to kick in. If we’re honest, most of us give into them. As Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist everything except temptation.”
Sheer willpower is good, but sometimes it isn’t enough to stave off those between-meal hunger pangs.
Your body is a lot smarter than you give it credit for. If your body is making you hungry, it’s because it usually needs something. But, the trick is to make sure that when you do feel peckish, you feed your body’s demands with the right sort of food.
So, let us provide you with some knowledge about what makes a snack healthy, some dos and don’ts, as well as taking you through a bevy of ideas before providing you with your very own healthy snacks list. However, you’re more than welcome to skip straight to the free printable healthy snack grocery list.
What Makes a Snack Healthy?
Not all snacks are created equal. So, what makes a snack healthy?
High in fiber – our body needs fiber. Not only does it help clean up our digestive tracts, but it has the handy little feature of helping us feel full for longer. So, the higher the amount of fiber in the snack you’re having, the less likely you are to be reaching for another one before your next meal.
High in protein – protein is very important for our bodies. It’s a macronutrient that helps our bodies to do everything from maintaining healthy bones to building muscle (when exercising) and boosting our immune system. As the body can’t store protein, we need to make sure we get enough of it each day. Eating high protein snacks ensures we get all the protein we need for our bodies to function. Many high protein and low saturated fat snacks are also high in fiber.
Low in saturated fat – our understanding of saturated fat’s effect on our health is becoming more complicated. It’s believed to raise our bad cholesterol levels which can cause heart disease. However, the links between saturated fat and heart health is being questioned as more research comes to light. Regardless, it’s still good to keep the amount of saturated fat in your diet as low as possible. Better safe than sorry.
Low in sugar – whilst the role of saturated fat in our diet is becoming more complicated, sugar is getting more scrutiny, too. Some scientists and dieticians claim that a high sugar diet directly contributes to weight gain and obesity. Why? Because sugar is full of calories that, if we don’t burn, the body converts and stores as fat. Therefore, a healthy diet should look to greatly reduce the amount of added sugar in things like soda, candy, and chocolate.
Low in sodium – our bodies need salt to function. However, too much sodium, which can be found in salt, is linked to high blood pressure and hypertension. Choosing snacks low in salt and sodium will certainly help to keep your blood pressure down.
Healthy Snack Ideas Dos and Don’ts
Measure out your snacks – even though your snacks are healthy, “everything in moderation” is still a good mantra to live by. Eating too much of a good thing is still extra calories. So, make sure you’ve got some weighing scales and some food containers at the ready to measure out your portions so you don’t go overboard with your healthy snacking.
Use a calorie tracker – calorie counting is never fun. But, it’s still a really useful tool. We recommend using a calorie counting app to make it easier to track your daily consumption, as well as set deficit goals if you want to lose weight. By adding your snacks into this with the rest of your meals, you can see how much your snacking is adding to your calorie intake.
Force yourself to snack on something you don’t like – we’re less likely to stick to our diets if we’re not enjoying them. Whilst dieting certainly means giving up or reducing the things you like, it shouldn’t mean subjecting yourself to food you find disgusting. If there’s anything on this list you dislike, then find something else to snack on.
Although, we encourage you to try things you’re not keen on a couple of times before dismissing them. You could learn to like the taste or combine it with something else that you find palatable. This might make it bearable, or even downright delicious!
Healthy Snacks List
Without further ado, we present to you your healthy snack list. Whilst this list can be used to make healthy snacks for kids, be aware that children need smaller portions than adults. So, make sure you measure them out accordingly for your little ones.
Water: The Ultimate Snack
We know it sounds absolutely mad to suggest water as a snack, but we’re really being quite serious.
Sometimes, we confuse thirst with hunger, causing us to eat instead of drink. This means we’re ingesting calories that our body doesn’t actually need or want. So, to make sure that it’s hunger and not thirst we’re feeling, whenever you feel hungry, grab a glass of water. If you’re still feeling hungry afterward, grab a snack. If not, put the snack down!
Another way to be sure your brain doesn’t confuse thirst with hunger is to make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Download a water drinking tracker or a water drinking reminder app to make sure you stay sufficiently hydrated.
Try and avoid buying bottled water if you can, as you don’t want to be improving your health at the cost of the planet’s! Buy your own reusable drinking bottle to refill it for free and reduce your plastic waste. Some even come with a built-in filter to remove impurities from your water, making it even better for you.
Add slices of fruit or veg such as orange, lemon, or cucumber, or even herbs such as mint or rosemary, to add extra flavor to your water.
Sweet Snack Ideas
Fruit and herbal tea – these aren’t everyone’s “cup of tea”. But, if you’re happy drinking them, they can help satisfy a sweet craving as well as keeping you hydrated. If you do need them a little sweeter, try adding a teaspoon of honey, or an artificial sweetener to ensure you keep your calories in check.
Fresh fruit – these are probably the next best snacks to drinking. Why? Because, not only are they full of vital vitamins we need to stay healthy, they are also packed full of fiber. Most healthy eating guidelines recommend we eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Avoid buying packs of pre-cut/sliced fruit from supermarkets. This is because as soon as fruit starts to be prepared, they rapidly lose their nutrients: particularly vitamin C. They also can be up to 5x more expensive in weight compared to fresh whole fruit, so you’re actually paying more for a less healthy snack!
Dried fruit – these are a good alternative to fresh fruit. For starters, they’re not going to go overripe or bad too quickly if stored in a cool dry place, like inside a food container. This also makes them fairly easy to transport. Secondly, they’re good for mixing with nuts and seeds to make your own snack creations.
Just be aware that because the fruit is dried, they do have a higher natural sugar content in terms of weight than their hydrated counterparts. This is because the water in fresh fruit makes them weigh more. For example, 100g of raisins is going to have a lot more sugar than 100g of grapes. So, use sparingly.
Dark chocolate – chocolate lovers rejoice! Eating chocolate can indeed be healthy. However, this is dependent on what type of chocolate you eat.
To make chocolate, producers add fat (cocoa butter), sugar, and milk in different quantities to cocoa solids to make different types of chocolate. White chocolate has a very low cocoa solid content and is high in sugar and fat. Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content, and less sugar and fat. So, the darker the chocolate you choose, the healthier it is for you.
The best type of chocolate you can have is raw chocolate. This has a very high cocoa solids content and has undergone very little processing. As it usually is made using a cold press process, it means many of cocoa’s natural antioxidants aren’t killed off and are still present. This makes it super healthy! You can even get cocoa nibs: raw chocolate’s answer to chocolate chips! However, many people find the taste of raw chocolate very bitter. So, despite it being super healthy, it’s not for everyone.
Yogurt and honey – yogurt is another great healthy snack. This is because it has probiotic properties that help keep our gut healthy, as well as being generally low in fat and sugar.
If you’re wondering whether to buy natural or Greek yogurt, it’s really down to you. The straining process used to make Greek yogurt thicker and creamier than natural yogurt means it is higher in fat and calories, but lower in sugar. The opposite is true of natural yogurt. So, it depends whether you want to reduce sugar or fat in your diet. Either way, both are great choices for healthy snacks.
However, one thing you should definitely avoid is “Greeks style” yogurt, as it means it has been thickened artificially. Also, avoid fruit-flavored yogurt as it usually has a lot of added sugar.
To ensure your yogurt snack stays healthy, simply buy some plain yogurt and then sweeten it with some honey. Honey is full of antioxidants and is claimed to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. You can also add other things to your yogurt, such as fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, or seeds. This will make it a more filling and tasty snack.
Savory Snack Ideas
Popcorn – who doesn’t like popcorn! It’s a movie theater favorite, but why only eat it there? It can be a satisfying savory snack too. Look for varieties that are low in sodium and fat.
Raw vegetables with dip – vegetables are great snacks because of their high amount of crucial nutrients and fiber. Cooking them means we actually destroy some of the nutrients in them, so consuming them raw is best. You’ll want to choose vegetables that are not just tasty raw, but also easy to pick up and munch.
Vegetables that are great for eating raw include:
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Cherry tomatoes
- Baby carrots
Prepare your vegetables as close to the time you’re going to eat them as possible. Like fruit, as soon as you start to peel, cut, or chop them, they start to lose nutrients rapidly. If you’re unable to prepare them at work or at school, make sure you put them straight into an airtight container to keep them as fresh as possible.
Nuts and seeds – nuts are legumes: something which top diets such as a the flexitarian and Mediterranean diets say we should be eating a lot more of. Why? Because they’re full of protein as well as being full of fiber. Seeds are also full of healthy fat, such as omega 3, which is great for you. They can be mixed together for a savory snack, or with dried fruit for something a little sweeter. You should try and avoid salted varieties of nuts and seeds to help keep your sodium intake as low as possible.
Don’t go crazy with nuts and seeds. They might be really good for you, and the fat that’s in them is great for your health, but these can clock up your calorie count significantly if you eat too many.
Certain seeds that are very high in omega 3, like linseed/flax seeds and chia seeds, are quite small, making them tricky to eat in nut and seed mixes. Instead, try adding them to yogurt or cottage cheese to reap the benefits without the hassle of trying to nibble them by hand.
Hard-boiled eggs – this might not be something you would think of as a snack, but it is actually an easy and good idea. Simply cook eggs in the morning until they’re hard boiled. Once they’re cool, pop them into a container to take them with you. When you’re ready to eat them, simply peel away the shell and consume. These are very high in protein and make for a quick protein snack that requires minimal fuss to make.
Cottage cheese or quark – dairy is something that we generally should be eating less of because of their high saturated fat content. However, cottage cheese is one of the exceptions.
It’s classed as a “fresh cheese” because it has not undergone any aging or ripening process that adds flavor to hard cheese. This also means it’s low in sodium and saturated fat than its hardier counterparts.
However, the curds visible in cottage cheese, along with its slightly tangy taste, might put people off. If this is the case, you might want to opt for the smoother and milder tasting quark, which is just as healthy.
You can add various things to cottage cheese or quark to add flavor to them. You can also make them into a sweet snack by adding fruit and/or honey. Whilst you can mix cottage cheese or quark in a bowl with other ingredients and eat it a spoon, you can also spread them on various things. Just make sure it’s either a wholegrain or a wholewheat cracker or bread to add extra fiber. But low fat and healthy rice cakes are just as good.
Peanut butter – did you know peanut butter can be healthy? Well, that’s because peanuts, like all legumes, are full of protein and fiber. If you want to make your peanut butter addiction even better for you, make sure you look for low salt, sugar, and saturated fat versions. If you can, try and use brands that have gone through as little processing as possible. Furthermore, try and make sure you spread it on wholemeal or wholegrain products to up your fiber count even more.
Be even healthier and use almond butter instead of peanut butter. Almonds help reduce bad cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. So, it’s just like peanut butter, but is even better for you. Go nuts!
Healthy Snack Ideas Grocery List
Now we’ve taken you through all the healthy snacks that are great for you, feel free to download and use our free printable grocery list. You can add things or take things off to make it your own.
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Healthy Snacks List
|Water: The Ultimate Snack
Sweet Snack Ideas
|Savory Snack Ideas
Do you have any favorite snack combos that you’d like to share? Can you tell the difference between peanut butter and almond butter? What do you think is the best dip to go with baby carrots? Lets us know in the comments.