How to Snack Happily and Avoid a Sugar Crash
We're sharing snacking advice from a nutritionist, as well as three healthy snacks you can try.
Building a snack is as easy as 1:1:1. Each snack should contain a combination of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. When your snacks contain all three macronutrients, your blood sugar and energy levels remain stable, and this is the key to avoiding a sugar crash. Many of us may still be in the "diet" mentality, opting for low-fat or non-fat snacks; some of us overindulge in artificially sweetened versions of the real thing; others miss the mark completely, eating sleeves of crackers or cookies just because they are gluten free.
Also, keep in mind if your snacks are too low in calories, for example, just a piece of fruit, you are more likely to feel hunger sooner. On the flip side, too many calories will keep you feeling fuller longer, possibly delaying mealtime. More often we end up overeating when we wait too long to eat. Our body likes consistency. In fact, it craves it. Most of us lead busy lives, and for some, even the thought of making breakfast each morning can be challenging. We tend to think that we have to do everything ourselves but sometimes it's good to take advantage of convenience. Here are three easy, healthy snacks that that will satisfy a sweet, savory, or crunchy craving while also helping you avoid the dreaded sugar crash.
Pistachios are one of the highest protein snack nuts at six grams per serving (about a quarter cup without the shells), which makes them an ideal snack. As a nutritionist, I like their balance of fats and proteins to carbs, which is one of the reasons the American Diabetes Association calls nuts like pistachios a "diabetes superfood." The better-for-you fats, plant protein, and fiber is a winning combination that may help you feel fuller longer. I keep the Wonderful Pistachios No Shells ($5.49, amazon.com) in my pantry as they pair perfectly with a square of dark chocolate and a cheese stick for a totally indulgent yet balanced snack. Get creative and combine the nuts with fresh or dried fruit and jerky for a perfect sweet and savory combination.
Greek yogurt is my go-to snack as it is naturally higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt. Look for brands that are made with all-natural ingredients as well as milk from cows not treated with rBST. With so many Greek yogurt options to choose from, it can be hard to find one that is both tasty and low in sugar. The Less Sugar Greek Yogurt Raspberry Chocolate Crunch made by Chobani definitely stands out. It has 11 grams of protein, 140 calories in each serving, and 30 percent less sugar than other mix-in yogurts. With crunch from the almonds and sweetness from the dark chocolate and raspberries, it has the perfect combination of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. If you prefer to start with a plain Greek yogurt, add a carbohydrate (dried, frozen, or fresh fruit) and a fat (nuts, seeds, nut butter, or dark chocolate chips) and you have a perfectly balanced sweet treat. Just add in a trail mix if you want to keep it simple.
Crackers are a great way to add crunch to your diet and the GG Scandinavian Fiber Crispbread Thins with Oat Bran ($10.75, amazon.com) really hit the spot. Reading labels is important when you are looking for a healthy snack and these crispbreads are made with two ingredients, wheat bran and oat bran. In fact each cracker contains four grams of fiber which can help slow the absorption of sugar. In turn, when your blood sugar is stable, you are less likely to experience a mid-afternoon sugar crash. Try topping the crackers with healthy fats like almond butter, avocado, or cream cheese and, as always, balance this out with a healthy protein like string cheese, a hardboiled egg, or even an ounce or two of smoked salmon.