Between school, homework, sports, your after-school job, and hanging out with friends, it may feel like there's no time for healthy eating. And when you do stop to eat, it's probably tempting to go the quick and easy route by grabbing a burger and fries, potato chips, or candy.
But it is possible to treat yourself to a healthy snack. In fact, if you have a hectic schedule, it's even more important to eat healthy foods that give you the fuel you need to keep going.
Even if you take time to eat three meals a day, you may still feel hungry at times. What's the answer? Healthy snacks. Snacking on nutritious food can keep your energy level high and your mind alert without taking up a lot of your time.
You may have noticed that you feel hungry a lot. This is natural — during adolescence, the body needs more nutrients to grow as it should. Snacks are a terrific way to satisfy that hunger and get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
But you need to pay attention to what you eat. Stuffing your face with a large order of fries after class may give you a temporary boost, but a snack this high in fat and calories will only slow you down in the long run.
To keep energy levels going — and avoid weight gain — steer clear of foods with lots of added sugars like candy bars or soda. Look for foods that contain fiber like whole-grain breads, cereals, fruit, and vegetables and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese.
Choosing healthy snacks means shopping smart. Be cautious of the health claims on food packages. Here are some things to watch out for:
Whatever claims a food's manufacturer writes on the front of the package, you can judge whether a food is healthy for you by reading the ingredients and the nutrition information on the food label.
Here are some ways to make healthy snacking part of your everyday routine:
Don't slip up after dinner. Evenings can be a tempting time to indulge in sugary, fatty snacks. If you're really feeling hungry, don't ignore it. Instead, pick the right snacks to fill the hunger gap. Whole-wheat fig bars, rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn can do the trick, as can fruit paired with cheese or yogurt.
Here are a few healthy snacking ideas:
As with everything, moderation is the key to smart snacking. People who eat regular meals and healthy snacks are less likely to overeat and gain weight than people who skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down a large order of fries.
It's natural to feel hungrier at certain times — like between a long afternoon of classes and your swim meet. Knowing how much food your body needs to satisfy this hunger is critical. A handful of walnuts is great brain food before sitting down to do that math homework. But a whole bag won't help you add anything — except pounds!
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012
|Allrecipes.com This site offers more than 40,000 free recipes, plus lots of cooking tips and information.|
|Cooking Light Cooking Light magazine goes online with recipes for healthy living, plus grocery coupons and tips for feeding your family.|
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Vegetarian Resource Group This site offers recipes, nutrition information, and lots more for vegetarians and anyone looking to eat less meat.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|Figuring Out Fat and Calories From all you hear, you'd think fat and calories are really bad for you, but we all need a certain amount of them in our diets. Find out the truth about fat and calories.|
|Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a scientist to figure out how to make safe, healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.|
|Your Secrets to Healthy Snacking More than 1,000 teens took our survey on healthy snacking. Here are their thoughts (and advice) on choosing healthy snacks.|
|Eating Well While Eating Out We all know the importance of eating well. But how are you supposed to do so when your schedule is so demanding you're never at home? Find out how to make healthy food choices on the go.|
|Food Labels Look at any packaged food and you'll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels.|
|Energy Drinks and Food Bars: Power or Hype? Energy drinks and nutrition bars often make big promises. But when you cut through the hype, what are you really getting? Find out here.|
|5 Ways to Get Your 5 a Day You may know that you should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Here are some tips on making that happen.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.