Eating to lose weight may sound counterintuitive, but research has shown that snacking may be a sound dieting strategy indeed. Noshing between meals can reduce the number of calories you consume when you cozy up to the table at mealtime and can be a valuable opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrients.

But don't go reaching for a bag of chips or a chocolate bar just yet! What you eat counts - a lot!

The right snack will ward off those hunger pangs and give you an energy boost, without tacking too many calories onto your daily total. It can also prevent you from coming to your next meal too hungry, so you don't feel like diving into the bread basket or taking second - or even third - helpings at dinner. But many of the most readily-available snack options not only load on the calories, they also tend to be high in artery-clogging trans fats.

While snack food should be convenient, unfortunately that convenience tends to come at a cost - specifically to your waistline. But with a bit of planning ahead, you can make sure you have healthy, tasty treats within reach the next time that snack attack hits. So wash fruits and cut up veggies, or package nuts in single-serving bags and keep them handy for when you get hungry. It's a lot easier to avoid succumbing to the vending machine if you have healthier options nearby.

The perfect snack provides some carbohydrate, protein, fibre, and a little bit of fat, all in a small caloric package. Just watch your portion sizes, in order to make sure your mid-afternoon snack doesn't become a meal unto itself.

Need some ideas?

Are you craving something salty? Try:

  • one ounce of baked tortilla chips with one ounce of melted low-fat cheese and tomato salsa
  • one ounce of roasted almonds or peanuts
  • one small whole-wheat pita with 2 tablespoons of hummus, tomato, and cucumber
  • one cup of vegetable or minestrone soup

Need a sweet fix? Try:

  • one piece of fresh fruit, such as an apple, orange, or banana
  • one ounce of dried fruit, such as raisins or dried apricots
  • one packet of sugar-free hot chocolate made with skim or 1% milk
  • ½ cup of low-fat yogurt (plain or flavoured) mixed with ½ cup of fresh or frozen berries
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team