Convenience Foods vs. Convenient Foods

Snacks need to be convenient. When you need a quick fix, chips, crackers, candy and other packaged foods can be too appealing to resist. Preparing snacks ahead of time makes it easier for you to choose nutritious snacks when the urge strikes.

Replace the candy and potato chips in your purse, desk or glove compartment with trail mix, a small box of raisins, fresh fruit or a bag of whole-wheat pretzels.

Here are some convenient snack items to add to your shopping list:

  • Vegetables and fruits like baby carrots and unsweetened applesauce that come in portable, single-serving packages
  • A container of sweet grape tomatoes
  • Small cans of fruit in natural juices
  • Trail mix made with unfrosted cereal squares, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried fruit
  • Whole-wheat breadsticks instead of chips
  • Apples, bananas, grapes or other fresh fruit that you can transport easily
  • A cup of low fat yogurt garnished with fresh berries, wheat germ or low fat granola
  • An orange or tangerine peeled at home so you can put the sections in a plastic bag and enjoy on the go without the mess

To maintain a healthy body weight, try to snack only when you are hungry, and not just from habit.

Big Packages Lead to Big Snacks

Serving size and portion control are integral to maintaining a healthy weight. Snacks are meant to supplement regular meals, not replace them, so it is important to keep portion sizes small.

Take your activity level into account when thinking about portion sizes since people who exercise regularly will be able to eat larger portions than those who are less active.

Here are some tips to help keep portion sizes under control:

  • Focus on the snack at hand. If you are distracted while eating, you will likely eat more than you planned or wanted.
  • Eat slowly and savor the taste. Slowing down will allow you to enjoy your food and it can help you eat less. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach is full.
  • Measure out a standard serving size using this table. If you are truly still hungry, measure out an additional half serving.
  • Put it on a plate or in a bowl instead of eating from the package. Otherwise it can be difficult to stop eating and control your portion size.
  • Make it a mini. You may find that just a bite or two of your favorite snacks, eaten slowly and savored, is as satisfying as your usual portion.
  • Keep treats out of sight. Surround yourself with healthy foods and put your goodies on hard to reach shelves or keep them out of the house entirely.
  • Divide and conquer. Use small sandwich bags or containers to divide larger bags of chips or pretzels into standard serving sizes. When you want a snack, reach for one of these packets.