Smart Snacking for Teens
So what do you do when you get home from school or practice, or are studying late -- ravenously hungry -- and cookies or candy are in your face and all-too-easy to eat? Such treats may taste good and supply a fast burst of energy. But they also fill you with empty calories -- extra calories your body doesn't need that get turned into added weight. Plus, those sugary foods may make you even hungrier at your next meal, so you'll eat more then, too.
There's a better way to quiet your growling stomach. Smart snacking can keep your energy level up and your weight down. Pairing complex carbohydrates (whole grains) with protein (nuts, beans, low-fat dairy products) is especially effective.
Instead of giving in to the sugary lure, think ahead. "Shop with a parent or go to the store by yourself to make sure your favorite healthy foods are available and convenient at home," says Kristen Liebl, LRD, a clinical dietician with Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. She suggests focusing on making fruit and vegetables convenient. For instance, buy them pre-cut so you don't have to do anything between fridge and mouth. Or buy them in a clear container so healthy fruits and veggies are the treat that's in your face. Put single servings in separate bags so they're easy to grab and go.
Healthy Snack Suggestions
Here are some ideas for healthy snack combinations so you can try smart snacking.
- Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or yogurt
- Crackers with string cheese
- Whole wheat pretzels with spicy mustard
- Rice cakes with peanut butter and raisins
- Trail mix you make yourself with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit (with no added sugars)
- Baby carrots, broccoli florets, celery sticks, or red pepper slices with hummus
- Apple slices or a banana with peanut butter or almonds
- Berries, cherries, grapes, plums, or melon chunks with low-fat plain yogurt