I grew up in a family of ‘snackers.’ As a result I suffered from weight problems much of my life. Exercise is important, but you can dig your own grave with your knife and fork. You need to pay attention to the quality of your calories as well as the quantity.
Herewith a rundown on noshing on nuts for healthy and nutritious snacks in reasonable quantities.
As a person who has had a weight problem for much of his adult life, food choices loom large on my radar. I love snacking, pizza, cheeseburgers, you name the junk food, I likely love it. However, I weigh in the mid 150 pound area and have done so for the past seven years. What has worked for me is clearly thinking about what the food means to me in terms of my health. Not focusing on how good it is going to taste and how much I have always loved that flavor. I tie my action to its likely consequences. The clear goal of eating healthy has been my solution. These researchers have some interesting ideas to add to the discussion.
Everyone knows that an apple per day is a more healthful option than a donut and yet, given the choice, many people would still choose the donut. A new study has revealed that food choices could be down to the associations that we make with food-related stimuli.
Researchers explain why the urge to eat a donut is mightier than the urge to eat an apple — even though the apple is the more healthful option.
Aukje Verhoeven, Sanne de Wit, and Poppy Watson, all psychologists at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, conducted the research.
Their findings were published in the journal Appetite.
The consumption of unhealthful foods is on the rise around the world, which is contributing to the more than 1.9 billion adults who are overweight globally.
Among children in the United States, more than 27 percent of calories each day come from snacks, including salted snacks, candy, desserts, and sweetened beverages. This could have hazardous consequences for their health.
Learned cues affect food choices
Government initiatives have focused on making people more aware of the adverse effects of eating unhealthfully. However, most people fail to adhere to the recommended food guidelines, and eating behaviors often remain unchanged.
Though it is not clear why informational interventions do not work, evidence suggests that food-related stimuli in the environment may play a role in triggering unhealthful eating habits.
“Health warnings often make people want to choose healthier food products, yet many still end up picking unhealthy food products,” explains Verhoeven. “We suspected this might partly be due to the fact that people learn to associate specific cues in their environment with certain food choices.”
For example, seeing a large “M” sign in the environment has been linked to reward, such as eating a cheeseburger, which then prompts a craving and could trigger a trip to the restaurant for a burger. Continue reading →
I have written about snacks and snacking numerous times. You can check out my Page Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly if you want more details. Herewith The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter take on the subject.
Make sure you’re properly fueled for a workout, but avoid mindless snacking.
If you start exercise low on fuel, you could end up feeling weak and run out of steam. Or, you may simply feel hungry, making it hard to focus on your exercise. However, unnecessary snacking before a workout may make exercise uncomfortable and add calories you don’t need, counteracting the calorie burn of your physical activity.
What you’re already eating for meals and snacks likely covers your exercise energy needs.
“I think there’s a misconception that you need to eat a snack before exercise, but this is generally only necessary if it’s been at least 2 to 3 hours since your last meal,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School who specializes in physical activity research. “For example, if you eat lunch at 11 a.m. and are going to the gym at 5 p.m., or you exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll need to refuel before exercise.” However, if you ate a late lunch at 2 p.m., and you’re working out at 4:30 p.m., you shouldn’t need a snack first. Continue reading →
Okay, nobody is saying that working in an office is as dangerous as doing construction or working in a mine, but health hazards exist in offices, too. It’s easy to grow complacent about it.
Desk jobs can pose dangers to your health. Rush family medicine physician Gabriela Baeza, MD, recently discussed some of the most common hazards — and how to avoid them.
A growing body of research suggests that simply sitting too much can endanger your health — regardless of whether you get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
Researchers have found that too much sitting might make you less sensitive to insulin (a hormone that helps your body process and use energy from food). It also might lead to higher levels of triglycerides, or fats, in your blood. Such effects could, in turn, make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. Continue reading →
We have just begun football season here, so Sundays in many homes will be characterized by folks in front of flat screens cheering on their favorite team. I plead guilty. Sunday is my favorite day of the week during football season because there are games all day, followed by Sunday Night Football.
All this has to do with the fact that while we are watching we are also munching, munching. I make popcorn in coconut oil that is as healthy as it is delicious. I hope you have a similar salubrious solution to game time munchies. I ran across this infographic on Doritos and wanted you to see it. Doritos is not the answer to your game time craving.
As a retired guy, I could actually consider this because I have the time. If you are working, I’m not sure it is practical. Anyway, it is another way to go it you are working on controlling your weight. Actually, as a snacker, this appeals to me.
Everybody does it. Who doesn’t like to snack? It can make a football game more fun to watch, but it can submarine your best laid weight loss plans. I hope you enjoy this snacking infographic. To read more detail on snacking check out my Page – Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. With apologies to Sergio Leone.
Caesar Salads: “You might think that because it’s a salad, it’s fine. But just a small bowl has 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat, thanks to loads of dressing.”
Banana chips are not a healthy fresh fruit snack
This is an element in most salads. You really need to watch out for how much salad dressing you add.
Fresh Smoothies: “That berry blend at a smoothie shop can have a whopping 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more, little protein, and often no fresh fruit. Fruit concentrates are often used instead of fresh fruit.”
Energy Bars: They recommend, “Choose bars that have 200 calories or less, some fiber, and at least 5 grams of protein, which helps provide energy when the sugar rush fades.”
Latte with 2% Milk: “Reward yourself with whipped cream on top. But this trade-off still adds up to 580 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat in a 20-ounce white chocolate mocha. That’s more than a quarter-pound burger with cheese.”
In my opinion, designer coffee drinks are really diabolical when it comes to watching your weight. I found out years ago that more often than not they set you back instead of helping you out.
Microwave Popcorn: “The word “snack” can be a little misleading on microwave popcorn. One popular brand packs 9 grams of fat into each “snack size” bag.”
This is another calorie trap. Popcorn is usually a healthy snack, depending on how you fix it. The microwave way, while very fast, is one of the worst in terms of health. Lots of bad fat and calories.
Banana Chips: “Deep-fried bananas don’t look greasy, but just one ounce has 145 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 8 grams of saturated fat: about the same as a fast-food hamburger.”
How can anything made from fresh fruit be a calorie bomb? Easy, deep fry it. WebMD suggests snacking on a fresh banana for four times the food, no fat and only 100 calories.
There are a total of 21 of these examples of what they term food frauds. I have picked out the ones most meaningful to me. Do yourself a favor and go back and click on the link for the full series. They also give suggestions on how to tweak them to make them less unhealthy.
As always, it pays you to be alert to serving size and portion control. I grew up snacking and most of the weight problems that I experienced resulted from that.
As regular readers know, I am a big snacker. It was a major problem for me when I was heavy, but no more. After you finish with this wonderful list of better than two dozen low calorie snacks, check out my Page – Snacking – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (with apologies to Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood).
I ran across this infographic on Pinterest and thought you might find the information helpful in your weight control efforts. Remember studies have shown that dieters who grazed on limited calorie snacks every few hours suffered from less hunger pains than the ones who limited themselves to only three meals a day. You don’t have to suffer to lose weight. Be a little thoughtful and you can have your cake and eat it, too … just not too much.
Here is a list of the highlights:
One slice of homemade banana bread = 170 calories
One cup of fat free yogurt and a tablespoon of honey = 160 calories
One square of dark chocolate and one ounce of dried cherries = 155 calories
One 100 calorie whole wheat pita with 2 tablespoons hummus = 170 calories
One serving of pretzels dipped in spicy mustard = 120 calories
Two large hard-boiled eggs = 155 calories
One Cup watermelon cubes sprinkled with feta cheese and chopped dill = 115 calories
As a health and nutrition consultant, two big questions I’m always asked are: When should I snack? and What should I snack on? Snacking often ends up being more like erratic eating so here are some tips to help you snack smartly:
1. Snack when your hunger is real.
When there is too much time between meals, you might need a bite to hold you over. The stomach takes three to four hours to empty, so if your next meal is five hours away, eat a little. If you under-eat or wait too long, watch out for over-snacking. You don’t want a snack to turn into brunch or dinner.
2. Snack when your blood sugar is low.
How can you tell? If your meals are high in starch or sugar, you might get low blood sugar shortly after eating, a swing that…
Do you feel hungry all the time? Always searching for another snack? Try adding more protein to your diet! This super satisfying macro-nutrient will help you feel full for hours.
Whether you’re fueling up for the day ahead or taking a mid-day snack break to ward off those afternoon munchies, high-protein snacks are the best way to keep you going. Snacks with protein give you longer-lasting energy than carb-heavy options, like humongous bagels and muffins, which leave you ravenous just a short while later.
Here are 10 protein-packed (and portable!) snacks that make it easy to stay satisfied.
Mixed nuts are a very convenient way to get some protein (and healthy fats). Read up on the best and worst nuts, then try adding dried fruit and seeds for a delicious, homemade trail mix.
I know this comes as no surprise to regular readers, but I have stumbled upon yet another tasty and healthy treat at Costco. This time it is the “Trek Mix.” Like the Clif Mojo Bars I wrote up not long ago, these also boast a sweet and salty taste. I guess that is the new trend – both sweet and salty.
I was impressed at the quality of the ingredients. This is directly from the package- “Kirkland Signature Trek Mix contains the following quality ingredients: Chocolate Chips that are made from 51 percent cacao, real vanilla, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a delicious chia cinnamon granola cluster.”
I don’t know if that sounds good to you, but my girlfriend and I opened the package and started eating them on the drive home from Costco. They were that good.
Here is the nutritional breakdown:
One 30 gram, 1/4 cup, one ounce serving provides
Total Fat 9 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
No trans fat or cholesterol
Sodium 20 mg
Total carbohydrate 15 grams
Dietary fiber 2 grams
Protein 4 grams
I can attest to the taste. These are delicious. We had to finally close up the bag for fear of wrecking our appetities before dinner. I was particularly impressed with the meager amount of sodium – only 20 mgs. It seems to me that everything I eat these days has at least 1000 mg of sodium. High salt/sodium intake is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults stay under 1500 mg of sodium per day, and never take in more than 2,300 mg a day.
As always you are invited to share your experience with these snacks.
Let me hear that, get me near that Crunchy Granola Suite Drop your shrink and stop your drinkin’ Crunchy granola’s neat ( Neil Diamond )
I agree with Neil about crunchy granola being neat. It has been a part of my diet for more years than I care to remember.
I know ‘Granola Without Grains’ sounds like something left over from April Fool’s Day. But it isn’t. That’s why I was so surprised to discover Paleo Granola by CJK Foods of Chicago, IL.
“Granola,” according to Wikipedia “is a breakfast food and snack food, popular in the Americas, consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey, and sometimes puffed rice, that is usually baked until crisp. During the baking process the mixture is stirred to maintain a loose, breakfast cereal-type consistency. Dried fruits, such as raisins and dates, are sometimes added.”
So, clearly, grains are an integral part of granola.
I must confess almost total ignorance of the Paleo diet. I just checked the web and the first thing I learned is that they don’t eat grains. They do eat grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds and healthful oils, like coconut oil. Lots of good eating there. So, the fact that you don’t eat grains explains why the Paleo Granola has no grains in it.
Before going further, I need to tell you that I bought it from my local grocer who had a girl passing out samples. I tried one and was blown away by the taste. A party in my mouth! I went right back and picked up a package. I am now on my third one.
Okay, so what is in Paleo Granola?
The ingredients are Organic almonds, organic sunflower seeds, almond flour, organic cashews, organic walnuts, maple syrup, organic flax seeds, organic coconut oil, organic raisins, vanilla, organic coconut flakes, spices and salt.
Here is the nutrition breakdown:
Serving size 2 ounces, 57 grams
Total fat 23 grams
Saturated fat 8 grams
No Trans fat
Sodium 16 mg
Dietary fiber 4 grams
Sugar 11 grams
Protein 7 grams
A quick comparison with a regular granola, puts Paleo slightly higher on calories, a lot higher on total fat, due to the nuts and coconut, way down on sodium and higher on fiber and protein. Not a bad tradeoff, I think.
Although I am a big granola fan and have a bowl almost every day. I have found that I like the taste of this Paleo mixture so much that I use it as a snack and sometimes take chunks of it with me for energy breaks when I ride the bike.
While I usually refrain from writing up local products that are not available to readers of an international blog, I did this one because I thought you might enjoy being exposed to the concept of granola sans grains. Also, resourceful readers might even try to make it on their own with a little experimentation. You have all the ingredients.
If anyone does try to make their own, I hope you will share your experience with the blog.
For Neil Diamond fans, here is the best audio version I could find on You Tube:
One of the secrets of super snacks under 100 calories is portion size. If you control the amount you are snacking on, you can enjoy just about anything. Moderation is key.
A great example of a super snack under 100 calories is watermelon. This is one of my favorite snacks and I have some almost every day. One serving of watermelon, 5.4 ounces, or one cup, yields 46 calories, no fat or cholesterol, one gram of fiber and also protein. Check out How Healthy is Watermelon for more on this super snack.
While snacking always keep portion control in mind. Don’t go nuts doing it. But wait, you can go nuts, just limit your quantities, Harvard offers the following: “Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small.”
WebMD offers a great example of this: “When the munchies strike while you’re on the go, there are few things more convenient than nuts. You can eat 14 almonds without hitting the 100-calorie mark. Plus, they’re rich in fiber and protein, which help keep hunger at bay.”
Personally, I am a big fan of popcorn and often have it evenings watching movies. You can have several cups of popcorn popped with coconut oil and remain under 100 calories. Snacking tip: Eat one kernel at a time and consciously enjoy it. Your snack will last longer and you will appreciate it more. I found this out when I had some dental work done last winter. I asked the dentist if I could eat popcorn. He laughed and said I could if I ate one kernel at a time. I have been doing it ever since.
Roasted seaweed is subtle and delicious. It comes in delicate little sheets. I think it melts in your mouth. Costco sells it in packages of 17 grams. Nutritional breakdown: 100 calories. There are 300 mg of sodium which may be off putting to some. I don’t have a lot of sodium in my diet so I don’t mind.
WebMD has a nice collection of snacks under 100 calories that you can explore here.
Their first suggestion is 1/2 cup of slow-churned ice cream. “Surprise! Ice cream tops our list of low-calorie snacks. The key is to look for slow-churned or double-churned varieties. This refers to a process that reduces fat and calories while retaining the creamy texture of full-fat varieties, so 1/2 cup has just 100 calories. As a bonus, you’ll get some protein and calcium.”
Full disclosure: I am an inveterate snacker, so I have to really police myself in order to maintain my healthy weight. If you want to read further on snacking, check out my Page: Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
“I love to snack. I bet you do, too. Yet, some 60 percent of us are overweight including 30 percent who are actually obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition. I fear that snacking is the reason for a good deal of those statistics.” Such is the opening paragraph from my Page – Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Check it out for lots more on this important topic.
Now comes the Harvard HEALTHbeat with their list of 7 Ways to Snack Smarter. Their item says, “It’s a great idea to choose snacks wisely. But many foods that seem to be a great nutrition value aren’t. Bran muffins and cereal bars can be packed with unhealthy fats and added sugar. Fat-free foods often contain lots of added salt and sugar.”
I put it in the blog because it has some excellent suggestions. Regular readers know I am a big fan of nuts, seeds and grains as they are super nutritious.
Here are Harvard’s 7 tips for smarter snacking:
1. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.
2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack. I think this has great possibilities.
3. Try a “hi-low” combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
4. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small. Because nuts and seeds leave you full, they actually can result in your eating less.
5. The combo snack. Try to eat more than one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied. I think that ‘satisfied feeling’ goes a long way toward weight control.
6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.
7. You can take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.