Smart Snacking to Help "Get Your Plate in Shape"

Posted 3/27/2012 in Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is “Get Your Plate in Shape”, which focuses largely on what your food plate should consist of and look like at meal times. This concept also goes along with the recommendations of the new MyPlate, from the USDA, which replaced the previous MyPyramid. Many consumers have been able to grasp the idea of dividing their food plate into quarters, having one quarter be lean protein, one quarter grains, one quarter fruit, and one quarter vegetables. However, there has been some confusion on how to make snacks fit into a healthy meal plan. Snacks can help to boost energy and supply essential vitamins and minerals.

There is a place for snacks in healthy eating plans and here are some tips to help you get started! Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-dense foods. You can fit snacks into your personal meal plan without going over your calorie budget. Snack only when hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you are bored or stressed; instead feed emotions by going for a walk, talking to friends, or keeping busy with other projects.

Keep portion control in mind. Have single-serving snacks pre-portioned out and avoid eating directly from multiple-serving packages, like a can of nuts or box of crackers. Plan snacks ahead of time and keep a variety of nutritious ready to eat foods on hand, such as low-fat string cheese or whole grain crackers.

Healthy snack possibilities with less than 200 calories include: 1 tablespoon peanut butter spread on slices of a medium apple or 1 slice of lite whole-wheat bread; 1 cup tomato soup with 5 whole grain crackers; 3 cups air-popped popcorn or single-serving microwave bag; fruit smoothie: blend 1 cup skim milk, ½ cup berries, and ½ banana; toaster waffle topped with ½ cup berries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt; fresh vegetables: 6 baby carrots, 10 sugar snap peas or pepper strips, and 6 cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons reduced-fat dressing or dip; 6-inch flour tortilla with ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons salsa; ½ cup of low-fat yogurt with 2 tablespoons of granola.

Regional Medical Center encourages you to take a look at your current eating habits and consider changes that you could make to “Get Your Plate in Shape”. For more information contact RMC’s registered dietitians Cara L. Recker, RD, LD, CNSC, CDE, at 563-927-7430 or Donna Peitz, RD, LD, MPH, at 563-927-7582.