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Smart Snacking

Medically reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Teens are busy, and often skip meals. Even if you eat three meals a day, you may still feel hungry between meals. Either way, it can be tempting to grab something fast, like cookies, chips, and candy. Instead, get a nutrition boost with healthy snacks. Choose fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, and protein foods to get the most out of your snacks. 

Eating a healthy snack can help you stay focused, give you energy, and keep hunger in check.

Smart Snacking Strategies

When you want a snack, choose fruits and vegetables, whole grains that have 3 grams of fiber or more, and protein-rich foods, such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. 

Here are some ways to make healthy snacking part of your everyday routine:

  • Keep healthy snacks in your refrigerator or pantry. This will make it easier to make the healthy choice when it comes to snacking. 
  • Make sweets, chips, and other treats the exception rather than the rule. An occasional treat is fine, but choose healthy snacks most of the time.
  • Have a schedule for meals and snacks. When you graze throughout the day you may not notice when you are hungry or full and eat extra calories. When you skip meals, you are more likely to make poor food choices and overeat when you do eat. 
  • Practice mindful eating. Eat all snacks and meals at the table. Don't watch TV, play video games, or be on your phone when you are eating
  • Read the nutrition facts label when buying packaged snacks. Look for snacks that are low in added sugar and high in nutrients, like fiber, protein, and calcium. Check the serving size, especially when eating typical snack foods, like chips. What looks like a small package may be 2 or more servings — which means double or even triple the amounts of fat, calories, and sugar shown on the label
  • Bring healthy snacks with you. Make it a habit to stash some fruit, nuts, whole-grain crackers, or baby carrots in your backpack or workout bag so you have a healthy snack when you need it.

What Are Some Healthy Snacks?

Here are a few healthy snacking ideas:

  • Smoothies: Blend fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, like kale or spinach, with yogurt, milk, or a dairy-free milk option. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter for extra protein.
  • Whole-grain pita, veggies, and hummus: Toast a pita, then cut it into triangles. Serve with cut-up veggies and your favorite hummus.
  • Homemade trail mix: Combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with ¼ cup chopped walnuts and ¼ cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix.
  • Air-popped or lite popcorn: Spice up your popcorn by sprinkling it with parmesan cheese or other seasonings, like chili powder or lemon pepper.
  • Banana “ice cream”: Peel several ripe bananas, break them into 1-inch pieces, and freeze them in a sealed plastic bag. Just before serving, whirl the pieces in the blender with a small amount of water or milk. Add berries for a different flavor or top with fruit or nuts.
Medically reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021