Snacking sometimes has bad connotations. However, researchers have reported positive nutrition outcomes associated with snacking, especially among older adults and children.
In a study of about 2,000 adults aged 65 or older, 84 per cent reported snacking. When the researchers analyzed their intake of several nutrients and calories, they reported that the snackers consumed more protein and energy.
Many older adults have a lower appetite, so they may shortchange themselves on protein intake or not take in enough calories to meet their nutrition needs.
Children, with their smaller stomachs, may have a difficult time meeting their nutrition needs unless healthy snacks are provided for them.
Regardless of your age, enjoying some healthy snacks helps keep your energy up and makes you less likely to overeat later. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help us meet our nutrition needs.
Although you may be tempted to snack on a candy bar or chips when you feel hungry, try to make your snacks count toward meeting your nutritional needs. How about 100 per cent juice, 100-calorie snack packets, baked chips, dried fruits or pretzels instead?
Are there any food groups lacking in your diet? For example, most adults need about 4.5 cups (total) of fruits and vegetables per day. Are you meeting that goal? Are you eating about three servings of whole grain foods? Are you meeting your calcium needs by regularly choosing low-fat dairy and other calcium-rich foods?
Here are some snack ideas that require no cooking and can be eaten almost anywhere:
Grain group: Whole grain mini-muffins, banana or pumpkin bread, whole grain crackers or air-popped popcorn.
Vegetable group: Baby carrots, broccoli florets or caulifl ower.
Fruit group: Grapes, strawberries or melon chunks; whole fruits, such as apples, oranges and plums; prepackaged fruit cups or dried fruit.
Milk group: String cheese; low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
Meat and beans group: Unsalted or lightly salted nuts.
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North Dakota
State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor
in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.