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Thursday, September 12, 2024

What is a Balanced Snack?

Balance. It seems we hear this term everywhere we go. Find balance between work and family life. Balance between caring for others and caring for ourselves. Now we hear it about our food choices when we’re told to have a balanced snack.

What does it mean exactly to have a balanced snack? I thought a snack was a snack – granola bar, apple, string cheese etc. I often pick snacks that are easy to grab and carry with me like a bag of potato chips or a banana. The problem is that most of these grab-and-go snacks are made up of all carbohydrates. These types of snacks might give you energy in the short term, but they spike your blood sugar levels, eventually leading you to a serious crash in energy.

Nuts _mixed

So how do you avoid this common problem? Simple – by choosing and preparing balanced snacks that have a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates. I know what you’re thinking: We are supposed to be cutting fat from our diets, right? The truth is that some fat – monounsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and avocados – is good for us. This type of fat helps our digestion and allows our body to absorb the nutrients in the things we eat. Here’s the kicker: when you choose this killer combo of protein, fat and carbs, you will feel fuller, which means you will not overeat and you will feel satisfied for much longer. When dinner time rolls around, you will be less likely to feel like you might bite someone’s head off if you don’t get your food at that very second.

Balanced Snack Options

Below are a few ideas for balanced snacks to get you started:

  • 2 tablespoons of almonds with 1 teaspoon dark chocolate chips + 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese + 2 slices toasted raisin bread
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter + 12 carrot sticks
  • 1 serving 2% Greek yogurt + 1 honeycrisp apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 hard-boiled egg with a sprinkle of paprika + 2 Wasa light rye crackers

These snacks are all under 300 calories and they’re all balanced in that they combine protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some protein is hard to digest, so your body works harder, burning more calories in the process.  

A balance of foods has numerous benefits to your health, and you don’t have to compromise on taste. So next time you need something to hold you over in the afternoon, skip the chips and try out a delicious balanced snack instead.

Information taken from:  Family Circle Magazine, January 2014

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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