Best On-The-Go Snacks
Up until a decade ago or so, snacking was frowned upon, and being able to withstand the starvation you experienced between meals virtually qualified how successful your day was. Thankfully, the tides have turned, and snacking isn’t just for kids anymore!
Health professionals have come to realize that healthy nibbling is a great way to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which keeps our energy up and our ability to concentrate on-point. For those who suffer from hypoglycemia or other challenges with blood sugar regulation, like diabetes or prediabetes, smart snacking is even more imperative.
But what makes a snack healthy? Well, it should be a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, but without too much sugar. This combination will help keep you full and won’t send your blood glucose levels sky-high.
If you do suffer from diabetes, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or prediabetes, please check with a health professional to make sure these snacks are right for you.
Check out the following examples of great snacking go-tos for when you’re on the move.
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Snack 1 – Raw Nuts and/or Seeds
Raw nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, or seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They are also super portable with zero stain-factor. Buy them in bulk when they’re on sale and freeze or refrigerate them if you won’t go through them quickly. Take the easy, helpful step of portioning them out into small snack-sized baggies and keep `em everywhere (your desk drawer, car, purse, gym bag, lunch bag, etc).
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Snack 2 – Trail Mix
If you find snack 1 too boring, make things a bit more exciting and prep yourself some trail mix. Again, you want to get a combo that contains raw nuts (roasting them destroys the beneficial fats they contain) and isn’t too heavy on dried fruit. Although dried fruit isn’t the worst thing you could be snacking on, the simple carbohydrates in them have the potential to shoot your blood sugar higher than you want.
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Snack 3 – Fruit and Nuts
Ok, yes, enough with the nuts, but we just want to reinforce one last time the level of protein and healthy fats they contain. They’re a wonderful addition to an apple or banana mid-afternoon. Fruit is a great option when you get those 3 p.m. sweet cravings and is much healthier than the cookie you’re eyeing while in the coffee line.
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Snack 4 – Fruit and Nut/Seed Butter
Although one might associate this snack with something you’d prepare for your children, fruit and nut/seed butters have no age limit! So, while you’re slicing apples up for your kids, throw some in your lunch bag as well, plus a tablespoon or two of raw nut or seed butter. This isn’t going to be a walking or driving friendly treat, but it sure as heck is tasty!
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Snack 5 – Fruit and Cheese
Again, this snack is just as tasty for adults as it is for kids, so put that judgmental hat away. Grapes, pears, and apples complement cheese beautifully, especially a sharp cheddar or brie. As cheese is so darn tasty, prevent yourself from going overboard. A typical serving would be about the size of your thumb. Now, in addition to portion control, it’s also up to you to resist any cravings for wine which might occur!
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Snack 6 – Greek Yogurt
OK, this one might be a hard one to eat while walking or driving too, but if you have access to a fridge at work, Greek yogurt is a great option for a snack. The key thing is to make sure the yogurt is plain, as flavored options usually contain a ton of sugar you don’t need. If you find it too sour, add in some berries or 1/3 cup of lower-fat granola before packing it at home. Greek yogurt is an amazing source of protein and healthy bacteria for your digestive system.
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Snack 7 – Raw Veggies and Hummus
Although we all know we need to eat more veggies (because we do), we also know that when we’re facing down the choice of the coffee line cookie or raw broccoli, there’s no guesswork in figuring out which wins. But eating your colors is always wise (i.e. real colors, not red dye No. 5) and a healthy dip can make it so much more user-friendly. Hummus recipes run aplenty online, or you can find premade ones at your local grocery store. If you choose the latter, just be wary of sodium content and artificial flavoring.
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Snack 8 – Make-`em-yourself Energy Balls
There are an infinite number of recipes online for how to make energy balls – and the best part is that most of them don’t require you to bake a thing! Most contain sources of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates. The best part is they can be tweaked based on your preferences! Your best bet is to look for recipes created by registered dietitians or holistic nutritionists. Now, it will be up to you to stop eating them all at once!
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Snack 9 – Snack-sized Smoothies
Smoothies have gained a lot of props for being a healthy breakfast option, but don’t let that limit you in your thinking. You can blend up a batch and portion it out into smaller containers or jars and refrigerate until needed. If you’re going to make up enough for a couple of days-worth of snacks, freezing them is advisable. When smoothies are made properly they are an amazing source of nutrients (see point 4 in this article for what to look for in a healthy smoothie).
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Snack 10 – Whole-grain Crackers and…
…nut butter, hummus, cheese, guac, tuna ... the list goes on. Just make sure to read the label and aim for 3-5 grams of fiber per serving of crackers.
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Snack 11 – Hard-boiled Egg and Fruit
Eggs have been labeled as “nature’s perfect food” due to their amazing nutrient profile. Plus, they’re super portable when hard-boiled. You might want to shell them at home, as they can be messy (and smelly!), and hard to finagle while on the go. Fruit slices add in the additional fiber component and satisfy any possible sweet cravings you might have.
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Snack 12 – Healthy Granola Bars…
…which aren’t so easy to find, as food manufacturers use the term “whole grains” to mask a whole bunch of added sugar. But if you know how to read a food label, you can bypass these unhealthy options. You want to make sure your granola bar contains at least 5 grams of protein, less than 5 grams of sugar, and that sugar (or another sneaky way of saying sugar) isn’t in the first 5 ingredients.
If it doesn’t meet those guidelines, you’re on the verge of basically having a chocolate bar masquerading as a granola bar. If you’re struggling to find anything that fits these requirements, there are also amazing recipes online to make your own granola bars.
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Snack 13 – Cherry Tomatoes and Feta
The natural salt kick in feta beautifully complements the cherry tomatoes, and makes for a savoury snack. Make sure you buy the block feta, versus the crumbled kind, as you want to be able to cut the cheese into cubes for easy handling. Throwing in some cucumber slices will give you a finger food version of a Greek salad!
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Snack 14 – Whole Grain Tortilla Chips and Salsa
This snack is likely best consumed while seated at your desk (i.e. not while behind the wheel) for the spillage-factor and stainability of tomatoes. You can make your own salsa or purchase already made jars at your grocery store. Keep an eye out for sodium levels because you will likely be getting a lot from the tortilla chips (unless you can find some with a lower salt content). Also, it isn’t unheard of for sugar to be added to salsa as well, so be careful.
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Snack 15 – Chia Chocolate Pudding
Chia seeds have gotten a lot of hype lately as being a nutrition super star, and for good reason! They are an awesome source of protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids AND vitamins and minerals. When they are placed in liquid and left to stand, the fiber powers of the chia seeds cause the liquid to thicken (this makes them an excellent recipe substitution for eggs as well). So, check online for some easy go-to recipes for chia chocolate pudding and make it the night before. It will be worth the added bit of effort in the kitchen as it totally satisfies the afternoon cravings for chocolate, but without any of the guilt!
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Lauren Brown MSc. WWHP, is a certified Health & Wellness Coach who loves teaching about all facets of health and wellbeing. Much of her time is spent in workplaces, helping empower employees to get healthy through the wellness programming initiatives and educational sessions she delivers. Please see www.inspiringhealth.ca for more information.