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healthy snacking

It has happened to all of us at one time or another. We’re doing well-staying active and eating right…and then, suddenly we’re caught off guard and reach for the wrong thing to eat or drink. We’re often most susceptible between meals and failing to have sensible snack choices can easily sabotage even the best-laid plans. Here are some tips to help you make good choices easy and accessible:

  • Don’t bring the bad stuff home in the first place. If you don’t have chips and ice cream on hand, you are less likely to indulge.
  • Opt for whole food snacks. That is, items that appear as Mother Nature intended, rather than processed and configured into strange shapes or flavors. Look for snack and food choices that are free of preservatives, added sugar, salt or artificial ingredients.
  • Make fresh fruits and vegetables available and appealing. Keep a well-stocked fruit bowl front and center. Tempt youngsters with a variety and encourage them to try new things. Busy families can have washed and bagged packets of sliced fruits and veggies in the fridge for easy grab and go options.
  • Go nuts. Just a quarter of a cup of nuts is full of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. High fiber snacks-like nuts and seeds keep us feeling satisfied much longer that processed choices. Individual packages are easy to put in a purse, briefcase or bookbag.
  • Choose H2O as your beverage of choice. Stock up on several BPA-free plastic water bottles and keep them filled and chilled so you have no excuse not to hydrate with the hands down best option around!
  • Mainstays:
    • Fruit on a stick or ready made fruit cups
    • Steamed edamame (in the shell) – it’s portable and can be eaten hot or cold. A great high protein snack.
    • Hummus with whole grain bread sticks or veggies
    • Veggie cups and dip-Ranch dressing, peanut butter, or salsa
    • Popcorn-air-popped or bagged low calorie choices, like, “Skinny Pop”

Tempted by your favorite indulgences? Here are a few alternatives to try in place of popular less healthy snacks:

Popsicles vs. Homemade Ice Pops
Make your own with a combination of real fruit juice and pureed fresh fruit. In season fresh fruit allows you to make colorful, hard to resist versions, like watermelon lime, strawberry banana, mango peach, or blueberry lemon.  Because so much of the fresh fruit choices are quite sweet enough on their own, there is usually no need to add sugar. For a creamsicle twist, mix ½ to 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk or 8 ounce carton of vanilla Greek yogurt into the puree.

Canned Soda vs. DIY
Isn’t reading the long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the average soda can enough of a wake up call? Walk away from these products that are loaded with sugar, chemicals, artificial flavors and colors. Instead of canned soda, make your own with seltzer water. Just combine a ½ cup fruit juice and ½ can of seltzer with a splash of lemon or lime for a tasty and refreshing drink.

Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Nut Butter Rice Cake with Chocolate Chips
Just as it sounds-spread a little peanut or almond butter on a rice cake and sprinkle on a few chocolate chips. This swap also brings fiber and protein to the table. Yes, chocolate chips contain sugar, however, not nearly as much as cookie dough.

Fruit Roll-Ups vs. Dried Fruit or Tortilla All-Fruit Pinwheels
Most fruit roll-ups have more corn syrup and artificial flavoring and colors than fruit. Invest in dried natural fruits instead, such as mango slices or apples (watch out for added sugar here too.) For a variation on the same theme, spread all-fruit, low sugar jam onto an 8-inch flour tortilla-roll and cut into pinwheels. These may also be chilled and put on skewers for easy eating.

High-Sugar Mainstays (yogurt and granola bars) vs. Smarter Alternatives
For those who think yogurt and granola bars are super healthy choices, read those labels. Some of the best-selling brands of yogurt have as much sugar as two scoops of ice cream. The same is true for granola bars; many brands have as much sugar as a candy bar. For yogurt and granola bars, choose those that have 9 grams of sugar or less per serving.

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