Ah, afternoons. That wonderful part of the day where your energy becomes zapped and the cravings kick in. It is very easy to give in to these temptations but when you are on the road to living a healthier life, doing this will only make you feel worse both physically and mentally. When it comes to choosing a snack to get you through your afternoon slump, it is important to consume something that will satisfy your hunger as well as provide fuel to get you through the rest of the day. I have compiled a list of 8 healthy snack ideas that will meet both of these requirements!
Before we get to the snacks though, it is important to listen to your body when you hit this afternoon slump in order to decide what to eat. Are you starving or do you simply what something to munch on? Do you need lasting energy for the rest of your day or just a quick pick-me-up? Before reaching for the fridge, determine what your body needs so that you will choose a snack that will satisfy you the most!
1. Plain Greek Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt is a great snack option because it contains an excellent amount of protein (almost double the amount of regular yogurt!) When your stomach is growling, it’s best to have a snack with more protein because it will satisfy your hunger and you will be less likely to keep coming back to the fridge. The reason I recommend plain Greek yogurt as opposed to the ones with flavorings is because it has much less sugar. In general, snacks with high amounts of sugar won’t satisfy your hunger and you will most likely end up wanting to eat more. Stick to unsweetened varieties and feel free to flavor them yourself using natural ingredients.
I love cheese. It is definitely one of my favorite snacks to eat in between practices or whenever I’m experiencing an afternoon slump. I love to eat fresh mozzarella cheese sticks because they contain good amounts of calcium and other nutrients that give me plenty of energy.
3. Apple slices with nut butter
This delicious combination of foods is a perfect afternoon snack! Fruits are obviously full of good nutrients but they don’t always completely satisfy your hunger. By adding a healthy fat, such as a nut butter, you will feel more satisfied and be less likely to continue snacking.
Like I said with the nut butters, nuts contain healthy fats that will work wonderfully at satisfying your hunger. However, it is important to keep serving size in mind. For most nuts, a serving size is about a handful or two. Even healthy foods can be considered “unhealthy” when you eat them in large portions. I personally struggle with this sometimes. What works best for me is to use a small dish or plate as opposed to eating them out of the bag. I can better control my portion by actually seeing it on a dish in front of me.
5. Dark chocolate
I love sweets and dark chocolate is definitely one of my go-to sweets. Not all dark chocolate is the same, however. Some dark chocolates contain lots of sugar which won’t do you any good for providing your body with fuel. I recommend spending extra time in the store looking at the nutrition labels of dark chocolate brands so that you can decide which one contains the best nutrient amounts for your diet. Tip: Most times, the higher the percent of cacao, the less sugar and processed ingredients. (But keep in mind that the chocolate will not taste as sweet)
Most people assume that popcorn is an unhealthy food because it is often mostly paired with large amounts of butter. However, popcorn isn’t bad at all! Popcorn is a whole grain and it serves as a good snack for when you might not be super hungry but you simply want something to munch on. Air-popped popcorn is a great choice!
7. Veggies with humus
Like with the apple and nut butter snack, vegetables are obviously healthy but by pairing them with a yummy spread, you can increase flavor and nutrition! My personal favorite vegetables to dip are carrots and celery.
8. Sweet potato fries
I saved my favorite for last! Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamins A and C as well as healthy fats and fiber. If you love fries in general I highly recommend trying to make some homemade sweet potato fries. I do this by cutting a sweet potato into even slices and laying them out on a pan. I coat them in a small amount of coconut oil and season them will salt and pepper. I bake them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 425° F. (Oven times will vary based on the sizes of your fries). I flip the fries over occasionally will they are cooking. This is a great, filling option for when you want a salty snack in the afternoon!
These are some of my all-time favorite healthy snack options for when I need a pick me up in the afternoon. Remember, it is important to listen to your body in order to determine which snack will best fuel you. I hope you found some inspiration in these ideas and try some of them out for yourself!