Did you know there’s no clear definition of what a snack is1? Yup! That’s because people’s dietary patterns differ so much- it’s hard to put a clear label on what a snack or meal means for everyone. For example, is it the calories, the type of food, or the nutrient density that contributes your snack?
Whatever snacking is- we’re doing it. Based on consumer definitions, Americans receive 25% of their daily energy from snacks2. 96% of the US population over the age of 2 snacks at least once a day, and more commonly, 2 to 3 times per day2. Unfortunately, a lot of these snack foods are high in saturated fats, sugar, and sodium. Things like pastries, cakes, ice creams, are at the top of America’s most consumed foods list1. It truly is quite the SAD dilemma – (SAD is the acronym commonly used in research for the “Standard American Diet”).
So, how do you even build a healthier snack when there’s no clear definition?
Easy! Building a snack (or meal) will always follow the same key principle: balance.
A balanced snack is one that has every macronutrient- fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. Examples of each are listed below:
Fats: Nuts/Seeds, Oils, Naturally Occurring Fats in Animal Products (Dairy, Meat, Poultry, Fish)
Carbohydrates: Whole Grains, Legumes, Starchy Vegetables
Proteins: Animal Products (Dairy, Meat, Poultry, Fish)
The reason we want to choose one from each group, is to provide us with sustainable energy. It will fuel us to keep us going, prevent us from crashing, and keep us fuller longer to prevent excessive caloric intake.
To keep things simple, we’ve created a 2-step tool to help you build a snack for you or your family!
1: High fiber cereal (>4g/serving), Whole Wheat Bread, Pear, High Fiber crackers (>3g/serving), Popcorn, Oats, Carrots, Celery, Berries, Banana, Sweet Potato, Plantains, Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Grapes, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers
2: Egg, Nuts, String Cheese, Cheese Cubes, Hummus, Nut Butter, Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Seeds, Edamame, Roasted Chickpeas, Canned Salmon
- Yogurt/Cottage Cheese with Cereal
- Sweet Potato with Nut Butter
- String Cheese with Pear
- Whole Wheat Bread with Slice of Cheese
- Carrots and Hummus
- Salmon Salad with Veggies
The possibilities are endless! And if you’re confused about how to pair together the snack ideas, simply reach for a FITCRUNCH or FITBAR! We’ve done the hard work for you in balancing macronutrients. Check it out below!
- Hess JM, Jonnalagadda SS, Slavin JL. What Is a Snack, Why Do We Snack, and How Can We Choose Better Snacks? A Review of the Definitions of Snacking, Motivations to Snack, Contributions to Dietary Intake, and Recommendations for Improvement [published correction appears in Adv Nutr. 2017 Mar 15;8(2):398]. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(3):466–475. Published 2016 May 16. doi:10.3945/an.115.009571
- Hess J, Rao G, Slavin J. The Nutrient Density of Snacks: A Comparison of Nutrient Profiles of Popular Snack Foods Using the Nutrient-Rich Foods Index. Glob Pediatr Health. 2017;4:2333794X17698525. Published 2017 Mar 30. doi:10.1177/2333794X17698525