Between school, homework, sports, your after-school job, and hanging out with friends, it may feel like there’s no time for healthy eating. And when you do stop to eat, it’s probably tempting to go the quick and easy route by grabbing a burger and fries, potato chips, or candy.
But it is possible to treat yourself to a healthy snack. In fact, if you have a hectic schedule, it’s even more important to eat healthy foods that give you the fuel you need to keep going.
Even if you take time to eat three meals a day,
you may still feel hungry at times. What’s the answer?
Healthy snacks. Snacking on nutritious food can keep your energy level high and your mind alert without taking up a lot of your time.
Why Healthy Snacking Is Good for You
You may have noticed that you feel hungry a lot.
This is natural — during adolescence, the body needs more nutrients to grow as it should. Snacks are a terrific way to satisfy that hunger and get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
But you need to pay attention to what you eat.
Stuffing your face with a large order of fries after class may give you a temporary boost, but a snack this high in fat and calories will only slow you down in the long run.
To keep energy levels going — and avoid weight gain — steer clear of foods with lots of added sugars like candy bars or soda. Look for foods that contain fiber like whole-grain breads, cereals, fruit, and vegetables and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese.
Judging Whether Snacks Are Healthy
Choosing healthy snacks means shopping smart.
Be cautious of the health claims on food packages.
Here are some things to watch out for:
- Just because something is “all natural” or “pure” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s nutritious. For example, “all natural” juice drinks or sodas can be filled with sugar (which is, after all, a natural ingredient) but all that sugar means they’ll be high in calories and give you little nutrition. A granola bar is a good example of a snack that seems healthy. Although granola bars can be a good source of certain vitamins and nutrients, many also contain a great deal of fat, including a particularly harmful type of fat called trans fat. And there can be a lot of sugar in granola cereals and bars. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the package to be sure.
- Be skeptical of low-fat food claims, too. If the fat has been eliminated or cut back, the amount of sugar in the food might have increased to keep that food tasting good. Many low-fat foods have nearly as many calories as their full-fat versions.
Whatever claims a food’s manufacturer writes on the front of the package, you can judge whether a food is healthy for you by reading the ingredients and the nutrition information on the food label.
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