Confused about what to eat between meals? The key to choosing smarter snacks is not to think of them as a mini-break from good eating habits, but as mini-meals.
Follow the Food Guide
Smart snacks will keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day. And if you follow the principles in Eating Well with Canada’s Guide, your snacks will contribute to your daily nutritional requirements.
- Try to build each snack from at least two of the four food groups: vegetables and fruit; grain products; milk and alternatives; meat and alternatives.
- Choose foods that are lower in fat, sugar or salt (sodium).
- Select snacks with lots of fibre (like beans, whole-grain breads and nuts) to help you feel full longer.
- Watch the portion size. Take the time to measure your food portions rather than rely on sight alone. Once you get familiar with what a ½ cup of salsa looks like, for example, you can then dish out your serving with more confidence. If you’re buying a pre-packaged snack (like a bag of mixed dried fruit), read the nutrition label. It will tell you what makes up a serving size, the nutritional information per serving and possibly how many servings the package contains.
- Enjoy a wide variety of foods.
Remember, high-fat, high-calorie snacks that are low in nutrients are the ones to avoid. So take a pass on:
|doughnuts||french fries||Some types of granola bars|
|ice cream||pastries||sugary beverages (fruit-flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks)|
Great everyday snacks
Watch out for words that end in "ose" - generally that's a sugar.
Here are some ideas to get you started on the road to smart, healthy and, satisfying snacking.
If you frequently find yourself craving salty snack foods, consider simple substitutions that replace salt with other flavour enhancers.
- 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with salt-free seasoning (1 meat/alternative)
- ½ whole grain bagel with 50 g low-fat cheese (1 grain + 1 milk/alternative)
- 250 mL (1 cup) low-fat cottage cheese with ½ apple, diced, and a sprinkle of cinnamon (1 milk/alternative + ½ fruit)
- 1 whole-wheat pita and 175 mL (3/4 cup) hummus (2 grain product + 1 meat/alternative)
- 1 slice rye bread with 125 mL (1/2 cup) canned tuna or salmon (1 grain product + 1 meat/alternative)
- 1 ear of corn with pepper or other seasoning (1 vegetable/fruit)
If you've got a sweet tooth, fruit makes a fantastic snack, as do low-fat dairy products. Try to keep a couple of options in the house or at work.
- 1 medium apple, banana, pear or a small bunch (20) grapes (1 fruit/vegetable)
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) chopped fruit such as cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, cherries, watermelon (1 fruit/vegetable)
- 175 g (3/4 cup) yogurt (1 dairy)
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) pudding or custard (1 milk/alternative)
- 250 mL (1 cup) fortified soy beverage (1 milk/alternative)
- 2 medium fresh figs (1 vegetable/fruit)
- 60 mL (1/4 cup) dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, mango (1 vegetable/fruit)
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) fruit unsweetened / no salt added juice (1 vegetable/fruit)
- 200 mL drinkable low-fat yogurt (1 milk/alternative)
When you really need to sink your teeth into something, reach for crunchy veggies, fruit or whole grain foods.
- 500 mL (2 cups) plain popcorn (1 grain product)
- 125 mL (1/2 cup) raw, cut-up veggies such as baby carrots, peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes (1 vegetable/fruit)
- 30 g baked tortilla chips with 125 mL (1/2 cup) tomato salsa (1 grain + 1 vegetable/fruit)
- 60 mL (¼ cup) plain almonds (1 meat/alternative)
- 60 mL (¼ cup) pumpkin or sunflower seeds, unsalted
- 3 graham crackers (1 grain product)
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) peanut or almond butter or sesame tahini on a slice of whole grain toast (1/2 meat/alternative + 1 grain product)
Pre-packaged snack smarts
Be cautious when buying pre-packaged snacks since some that are labelled "healthy" (like some energy bars) could actually be high in fat, sugar or salt. You need to read the list of ingredients.
Here are some words to watch out for on a product's list of ingredients:
|Ingredient||What it is|
|Baking powder or soda|
Sodium (alginate, benoate, bisulfate, hydroxide)
|Corn syrup (or corn syrup solids)|
|Sugar or sugar alcohol|
Glycerol (or glycerides)
|Hydrogenated fats and oils||Trans fat|
Palm (or palm kernel) oil
Powdered whole milk solids