How to make the most of your snack

Consider your snack a mini meal

Do you eat three square meals a day? Recent data tells us you probably don't. Today, Americans prefer their snacks instead. According to the Agricultural Research Service, we consume one-third of our calories in between meals. Citing lack of time, lack of preparation, and jam-packed schedules, we skip meals and snack instead.

Snacking presents us with challenges and opportunities. Though we may want to snack on chips, sweets, and other "empty calories," experts say thinking of snacks as mini meals is a better strategy. If we snack well, the practice allows us to fit in those extra servings of fruits and vegetables we are often missing, filling out our diets with nutrients our bodies need.

So what should you snack on? Snacks that include fiber, water, and protein tend to be the most satisfying. Think bananas, apples, nuts, nut butters, whole wheat crackers, cheese, cocktail shrimp, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes, hard boiled eggs. Make an effort to put whole foods front and center in your refrigerator, so you can grab and go. Before choosing always ask yourself, would I eat this at meal time? If your snack fits more in the dessert category, pass it by, or indulge in small amounts with the knowledge that you've chosen a treat, not a mini meal.

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