Not all snacks are created equal. So if you’re going to have a bite between meals, why not make sure that you really need it and that it gives you a big nutritional bang for your buck?
Get starting by asking yourself these four questions before your next snack.
1. What time is it?
That’s right, timing is everything. “Really take note of when you feel slightly hungry between meals,” says Glassman. “For many people it ends up being around the same time each day.” Once you’ve spotted a pattern, plan ahead to have a healthy option available—rather than being caught off guard and picking a less-than-optimal choice. A few of Glassman’s faves? Olives, when she wants something salty. Or hemp or chia seeds mixed into some Icelandic yogurt for something creamy.
2. Am I hungry or emotional?
Who hasn’t mistaken feeling sad, stressed or angry for feeling famished? Try to tap into what’s really going on. “If it’s true hunger, perhaps you’re not eating enough throughout the day,” suggests Glassman. Try keeping a food diary and considering whether you need more protein at breakfast or a heartier lunch. “Perhaps you’re not eating enough throughout the day and your body’s trying to make up for missed calories.”
3. What goes on the plate—and in the cup?
Don’t eat out of a bag or skip having something to drink. “I always say to plate your food with a cup of tea or a glass of water,” says Glassman. “You eat more slowly, it’s more visually satisfying and you’re less likely to go back for more, which can happen when you’re eating out of a bag or box.” On the go? Portion-controlled containers can help you avoid overindulging.
4. How can I get a health boost?
Reap nutritional benefits by choosing your snacks wisely. A fruit-and-nut combo like blueberries and pecans, for example, is good for brain health as an antioxidant and inflammation-fighting one-two punch. Combining high-fiber whole-grain crackers with the healthy fats in some mashed avocado contributes to good heart health.