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Changing Your Diet, One Snack At A Time

Changing Your Diet, One Snack At A Time
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Sarah Syer, a recent Master of Science graduate from the University of Guelph. Thank you for submitting!
  
Chocolate bar or banana? Handful of chips or handful of nuts? Would you like fries or salad with that? Decisions, decisions….
 
Many Canadians find it difficult to choose, eat, and enjoy healthy foods day in and day out. Whether it is at home, at work, at a friend’s house, or on the road, we are constantly being faced with the decision to choose between healthy and less-healthy food options. Drastically changing an individual’s diet can be very overwhelming and often causes people to give up on their nutritional goals. Making changes to a client’s or your personal eating patterns is often a slow process, but making small changes, one meal at a time, has proven to deliver big results.
 
The average North American consumes about 50% of their daily calories from snacks and drinks. Although you may be eating a healthy breakfast, healthy lunch, and healthy dinner, the foods and drinks you consume between meals may be wreaking havoc on your overall health and calorie count. Therefore, an excellent place to start when you are trying to make a small change in your eating patterns is to make better (i.e., healthier) decisions when reaching for that mid-morning, mid-day, or late night snack.
 
Here are three tips for healthy snacking:
 
1) Center your snacks around fruits or veggies!
This trick not only increases your daily vitamin and mineral intake (yay to achieving your RDAs!) but it also may help increase your appetite for healthy foods throughout the day. Pairing a fruit or veggie with a protein or healthy fat is ideal. Here are a few of my favourites: banana or apple slices with almond or peanut butter, carrots and hummus, or blueberries and Greek yogurt.
 
Note: RDA=Recommended Dietary Allowance=the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. RDA is the goal for usual intake by an individual.
 
2) Don’t keep unhealthy snack options in the house!
It is often too difficult to resist temptation when you eye that box of bakery cookies on the counter or that bag of chips in the pantry. Therefore, if you only keep healthy snacks in the house, the decision is made for you – you are going to ‘choose’ the healthy snack! Having a bag of chips or sweets may be necessary when you are hosting guests, but limit buying unhealthy snacks to these occasions.
 
3) Stick to one serving if you need to indulge!
If you can’t resist your cookie or chip craving, consult the nutrition facts table and be sure to follow the serving guidelines. For snacks such as Oreos, one serving is 2 cookies. For snacks such as chips, one serving is often 20-30 chips. Although it may seem ridiculous, place 20-30 chips in a bowl (yes, count them one by one!) and limit yourself to that amount. This allows you to indulge, without going overboard!
 
Although there are many, many effective healthy snacking tips, these three tips have proven to be especially useful when I am faced with a difficult snacking decision. Encouraging small changes in eating patterns can lead to large changes in an individual’s nutritional health, and it is more likely that they will maintain a positive eating mindset. It is important for us to be able to eat the foods we love while feeling good about the healthy food decisions we’ve made each and every day.
 
Happy (and healthy!) snacking!
 
Sarah Syer is a recent Master of Science graduate from the University of Guelph. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science, also from the University of Guelph. Sarah has a passion for health, wellness, and nutrition, and she aspires to fuel this passion through health promotion, nutrition education, and nutrition/food blogging!

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