Healthy Snacking: Nourishing Options for All-Day Energy​ 

by Laura Purcell

If you find yourself succumbing to the midday munchies and grabbing for something to get you through until the next meal, you’re not alone. Research shows most Americans consume at least one snack per day. 1  Snacks may have developed a bad rap over the years, but if done wisely, they can be a key contributor to a healthy, balanced diet.     

Does snacking have any benefits? 

If done mindfully, snacking can be a beneficial way to meet daily recommended intakes of essential nutrients and maintain energy levels throughout the day. Additionally, snacking can help prevent excessive hunger and overeating during main meals. For older adults who have experienced a loss in appetite, eating more frequently through mindful snacking can be a way to ensure they are getting enough calories and essential nutrients.  

Potential pitfalls of snacking 

Many pre-packaged, processed snack foods are low in fiber and nutrients and high in sugar, added salt, and unhealthy fats. Filling up on these “empty calories” can lead to weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, and impact overall health. Instead, opting for nutrient-dense snacks that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals can provide the body with the necessary fuel it needs to function optimally and support overall health. 

How to make a healthy snack 

When choosing healthy snacks, two things to focus on are energy and satiety. Choose snacks that provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to sustain energy levels throughout the day. Incorporate fiber-rich ingredients to promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Instead of processed snacks containing simple carbohydrates, reach for whole grains and fruits and vegetables. 

Planning your snacks ahead of time is a great way to ensure that you have nutritious options readily available and avoid reaching for unhealthy choices when hunger strikes. Rather than grabbing something quick and easy, potentially laden with empty calories, sugar, and salt, intentionally adding snacks to your meal plan can help you make healthier choices and maintain a balanced diet. 

Snack ideas 

  • Hard-boiled egg, carrot sticks, slice of whole-grain toast 
  • Fresh fruit with mixed nuts 
  • Fruit and Oatmeal Smoothie Bowl 
  • Hummus, whole grain crackers, and pepper slices 
  • Air-popped popcorn and string cheese 
  1. Enriquez JP, Gollub E. Snacking Consumption among Adults in the United States: A Scoping Review. Nutrients. 2023;15(7):1596. Published 2023 Mar 25. doi:10.3390/nu15071596