Healthy Living Tips - Snacks

food

Today, we want to address SNACKING! Why are snacks so much more appealing while we’re home? And, why do we keep going back for more? We are going to dive into a mini lesson about fats and sugars that we hope will help all of us next time we go to the pantry and look for a snack. Often times, we can choose snacks that are high in fat or added sugar that taste good, but they leave us feeling hungry and wanting to come back for more.

Let’s start by talking about fats. Did you know that your body actually needs small amounts of healthy fats? Even though your body needs some fats to function, it is important to note that not all fats provide the benefits your body needs. There are healthy and unhealthy fats that we can consume. What we need to be weary of is overeating those unhealthy fats and being able to identify them in our foods. Unhealthy fats can affect your heart and lead to weight gain down the road. Identifying unhealthy fats can be tricky as they are hidden in foods. A good tip is to always look at the labels on foods for all of the ingredients. Below is a list we hope will give you some clarity as to what the healthy vs. unhealthy fats are. Hopefully you will have a better idea of what to eat for your next snack!

  • Healthy Fat Sources (Unsaturated Fats)
    • Nuts - almonds, peanuts, walnuts, nut butters
    • Seeds - pumpkin, flax, sunflower, sesame
    • Other - avocado, olives
  • Unhealthy Fat Sources (Saturated Fats)
    • ​​​​​​​Packaged baked goods - cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits
    • Fried foods - fries, doughnuts, fried chicken
    • Snacks - Chips, microwave buttered popcorn

Knowledge is power, and the more you know the more power you have to make healthy choices or find ways to modify the foods you are eating to make them healthier. For example, instead of deep-frying something, you can bake it. We are not saying you can never have an unhealthy fat but eat these in smaller portions and less often.

Now, let’s talk sugar. Foods high in sugar provide instant bursts of energy but this energy boost doesn’t last forever. Eventually, your body processes sugar, breaks it down, and you experience a feeling of tiredness. High sugar foods are called “fast-release foods”. It provides a burst of energy quickly and then fades leaving you feeling unsatisfied. This “fast-release” into your system leaves you feeling hungry and craving more. Our bodies need foods that are “slow release” foods to thrive. These foods help you feel satisfied longer and give you energy that lasts throughout the day (think whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies).

Sugars can also be hidden ingredients in our foods. Here are some of the other names added sugars can go by:​​​​​​​

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Dextrose, Maltose
  • Corn Sweetener
  • Syrup (corn, malt, brown rice, agave, maple, fruit)
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Sugar (brown, invert, raw, turbinado)
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Nectar
  • Fruit juice concentrate

One of the things that helps the most is having healthy foods readily available. Easy access to foods that are less healthy (high in unhealthy fats and added sugars) really makes it hard to choose a healthier option. Hopefully, this information about fats and sugars can help you next time you reach for a snack!

 

*Adapted from Y-USA’s Healthy Living Program

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miriam Aubert
Miriam Aubert
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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