Fresh fruit salad

Self-control and proper portion control are essential and incorporating healthier snack options can help you maintain your weight and avoid chronic conditions associated with excess weight. 

Throughout the holiday season (and, let’s face it, in everyday life), keeping those extra pounds off can be hard with holiday treats and other highly caloric snacks lying around. Self-control and proper portion control are essential and incorporating healthier snack options can help you maintain your weight and avoid chronic conditions associated with excess weight.

When thinking about healthy snack alternatives, it is always important to consider three key categories: fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Most of the healthiest snack alternatives fit within one of these three categories and can provide you with satiety (fullness), long-lasting energy and vital nutrients to help your body achieve its optimal functionality.

Some healthy snack ideas that can be incorporated into your life are:

• Apples or celery with peanut butter

• Fruit slice medley

• Fresh grapes

• Whole-grain crackers with a slice of low-fat cheese

• Pretzels

• Lightly salted popcorn

Being aware of your snack portions and serving sizes can help to eliminate the extra and often unnecessary calories present in your diet. Because we often don’t have measuring cups and spoons available at every moment we eat, there are some other methods we can use to estimate our servings. In a pinch, use your hand to help determine serving sizes. So what exactly is one serving of grains, fruit, and vegetables? While it varies, there are some standardized sizes you can use for reference when carb counting or calorie counting.

For grains, one serving is:

• 1 slice of bread

• 7 saltine crackers

• 3 cups of popcorn

• 1 cup of cereal

• ½ cup oatmeal

For fruits and veggies, one serving is:

• 2 cups raw, leafy green lettuce

• 1 cup cooked veggies

• 1 cup raw, chopped veggies

• 1 cup (about 12) baby carrots

• 1 cup 100 percent juice

• ½ cup dried fruits

• 32 grapes (I know right? How exact!)

• 1 small/medium apple

Liquid calories are often overlooked and people forget that your body treats calories from liquid NO DIFFERENT than those consumed from foods. Don’t forget that liquids can be calories too!

Include beverages into your daily allotment of calories. This includes:

• Soda

• Juice

• Energy Drinks

• Smoothies

• Coffee drinks with additives

For more information about your specific daily calorie needs, visit a dietitian or doctor today. Depending on factors such as age, activity level, genetics and gender, calorie needs are different for each individual. For more information on serving sizes and calories per serving, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/fd_exch.htm. 

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