SparkPeople.com is a free, online program that is growing in popularity. It emphasizes healthy eating habits, peer support and exercise. Visitors can connect with like-minded people, customize a menu plan and exercise plan, record their food and water intake or read uplifting and informational articles to help them on the road to good health.
SparkPeople suggests eating three meals and two healthy snacks (or four to five small meals each day) rather than just two or three big meals.
A healthy snack consists of the right balance of protein, carbs, fiber and nutrients with very little salt, sugar or fat. Consuming high-carbohydrate snacks without protein can cause an uncomfortable spike in blood sugar. Aim for snacks that contain 100 calories or less. A few minutes each week spent in preparation will ensure you always have healthful snacks readily available. Here is a listing of 14 great snack ideas:
1. Pizza: Spread some spaghetti sauce on a whole-wheat english muffin, top with veggies and low-fat mozzarella, then broil.
2. Peanut butter, hummus, spreadable cheese: A tablespoon of peanut butter spread on whole wheat crackers, celery, apples, sprouted grain or whole wheat bread, rice cake, or an all-bran muffin. A four-tablespoon serving of hummus or a wedge of low-fat spreadable cheese is a delectable substitute for the peanut butter.
3. Chocolate milkshake: That’s right! To the blender, add 1 cup ice, 1 cup skim milk, 2 egg whites, 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and two packets of Truvia. Blend until smooth.
4. Lettuce wrap: Spread a romaine lettuce leaf with tuna or chicken salad (made with light mayo), or deli sliced chicken, turkey or low-fat cheese, a little low-fat honey mustard, and your favorite sliced or chopped vegetables.
5. Soup: This comes in convenient single-serving containers, or make your own ahead of time. Watch out for high-calorie varieties.
6. Vegetables and dip: To 16 oz. nonfat sour cream, add a packet of most any seasoning mix. Enjoy with your favorite veggies: zucchini, celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, etc..
7. Nonfat cottage cheese: Top ½ cup nonfat cottage cheese with ½ cup lite canned (or fresh) fruit or fresh tomato.
8. Low-fat, no sugar added yogurt: By itself or add some nuts or fresh fruit.
9. Granola bars: The new generation of granola bars offer more flavor, nutrition and variety than ever before, even chocolate. Chocoholics rejoice!
10. Edamame: Soy beans are served as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants or you can buy them at the store and steam them yourself. They’re delicious warm or cold.
11. Protein source and fruit: Hardboiled eggs, a handful of raw almonds or cold roast chicken breast together with a piece of fresh fruit.
12. Trail mix: Avoid the kind with candies, and eat in moderation.
13. High-protein, high-fiber cereal: Serve with 1/2 c. skim milk.
14. Smoothie: Blend a low-carb fruit, egg whites or protein powder, milk or water, ice, and no-calorie sweetener.
To help you eat better, remove all unhealthful foods from your pantry and fridge and replace them with plenty of whole-grains, fresh vegetables and other tasty low-fat foods.