As I have mentioned before on my fitness and weight-loss journey, I like to feel full. I don’t like being hungry and for me that means eating healthier and making conscious food choices – and lots of them! Contrary to what my husband thinks (or use to think), a healthy diet isn’t about eating three full meals a day – at least not for me. I am a snacker, and maybe you are too…. or could be!
Staying on track is a balance of nutrition, hunger management and activity. By eating small, healthy portions I am able to control my appetite effectively. I have found that a nutrient filled snack of about 120 – 200 calories is perfect and helps keep me feeling satisfied through the day. I won’t lie, this took a little getting use to but it has made all the difference in my efforts. The trick for me is to remember to snack before I get overly hungry (thus more likely to eat a larger portion). After years of “watching what I eat” not paying off, I am down 14 pounds from what I was just three months ago. I feel better than I have in years and I’m not starving, I promise! Here are some of my personal favorite snacks, with approx. calorie counts.
I love fruit. Give me a mango and I’m a happy girl. Leave the skin on for extra fiber and nutrition. I suggest cutting it into cubes or slices for easy eating. Fresh fruits are great options for healthy snacks that will fill you up without using up a ton of calories, plus most of them come in the perfect portion sizes without any measuring needed! Some people dislike the sugar in fruits, but I don’t worry about these sugars – added sugars are what I aim to avoid. Choose for yourself by what feels right to you and by how your body responds.
- Mango (130 cals)
- Apple (65 cals)
- Banana (105 cals)
- Pineapple (2 cups 150 cals)
- Grapes (2 cups 180 cals)
- Fresh Cherries (enjoy a bowl full for just under 100 calories)
- Avocado Half (140 cals)
#2 Raw Almonds
A quarter cup of almonds will run you about 160 calories and provide you with a nice dose of protein to ward off hunger. Almonds happen to be a favorite of mine, but other nuts are great too. Stick to plain varieties – no added salts, sugars, honey, etc. Most raw varieties seem to run about 160 calories for a 1/4 cup, which is actually a nice portion despite sounding small.
#3 Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is low (or no) fat, generally around 140 – 180 calories per serving, creamy, full of protein and just down right tasty. If you aren’t down for plain, choose one of the many fruit added varieties (that’s me!). I love yogurt for breakfast, but they make great snacks too! When choosing a yogurt, watch the ingredients list and nutrition labels – many contain high fructose corn syrup and/or excess sugars (I like my yogurt to be around 20g sugar or less). I am currently obsessed with Chobani’s pomegranate flavor, but Stonyfield Organic Oikos and Fage are great options too!
#4 Homemade Kale Chips
Consider my Kale Chip Recipe. I may be addicted to these – I pick up a bunch of kale every time I go to the grocery store because I just love these so much. Potato chips are a big no-no and while kale chips aren’t the same, they do provide a lightly salted, crunchy snack that I just can’t get enough of. My kids love them too. Watch the salt and get creative by using other seasonings too!
#5 Kind Bars
I love Kind Bars. At 180-210 calories a pop, they sure do pack a nutritional punch with whole ingredients like almonds, cranberries, macadamias, honey, peanuts, raisins, cashews, and so on. These bars are simply delicious, even offering dark chocolate varieties for those who need a chocolaty snack….. umm.. I mean antioxidants. If a full bar isn’t what you need for a snack, consider their Mini Variety Pack for half sized bars that are perfect for curbing cravings.
Mmm, salads. Organic greens can be pricey and growing your own is so easy, even in small spaces. I highly suggest giving it a try. Either way, toss together greens, half an avocado, some chives and maybe some tomato and I have a mean salad for about 200 calories – including a low cal dressing (watch the ingredients!). I love these for a snack, add some grilled chicken for an extra filling meal.
Vegetables are great for you and incredibly low cal. They are a must with meals and great for filling in between meals. I like to choose veggies that I can eat plain or with minimal dressing to avoid unwanted ingredients. Since veggies are super low cal, I tend to pair them with a small portion of hummus or raw nuts for protein and fat. If ranch type dips are your go-to, consider DIYing using plain greek yogurt as a base.
- Cucumber (45 cals)
- Baby Carrots (4 cals each)
- Cauliflower (25 cals / cup)
- Bell Pepper (25 cals each)
If you have time too cook, I am a huge fan of brussels sprouts or asparagus roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. In fact – I have been guilty of making a whole meal from them. Note: When choosing fruits and vegetables be sure to buy organic, or based on the EWG Clean 15, to reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides.
These snacks as part of a healthy diet can make a big impact in the way you feel and the results that you see. Consider a modest, nutritive breakfast and lunch, but fill in the gaps with some of these ideas to keep hunger away and feed your body the nutrients that it desires, and then enjoy a well rounded, delicious dinner that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
What are your favorite healthy snacks to keep you going through the day?