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Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle

A closeup of crisp, red apples.

"Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle" during National Nutrition Month in March says The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. A bite can literally range from 20 to 30 calories, so it is wise to consider the impact of your choices and especially when snacking. "Snacks fill the nutrient gap between meals, but also need to fit within an individual's total energy needs," says DOD registered dietitian, Kim Markee. Three to five mindless bites a day can mean an extra 5 pounds around your waist in six months.

When the mid-afternoon energy slump has you reaching for refined grain-based snacks, such as a granola bar, crackers or pretzels, you may experience a quick surge of renewal, but at the expense of good nutrition and feeling full. In comparison, veggies, fruit, nuts and other plant-based whole foods yield vitamins C and E, beta carotene and fiber. Additionally, processed snacks, low in natural fiber and higher in fat, stimulate appetite, making portion control challenging.

Pass up three mini chocolate bars from your coworker's desk and you save almost 100 calories. Take inventory of the mindless bites throughout your day: finishing your child's oatmeal, partaking in the office candy bowl, munching on abandoned after-school snacks to rescue plummeting blood sugar, or eating that last spoonful of rice or mashed potatoes in the pot while cleaning up from dinner. It is a daunting thought that every bite truly counts, but a healthy lifestyle becomes approachable when fresh produce, heart-healthy plant fats and lean proteins are the focus.

Try these snack tips and ideas to optimize energy levels while keeping your calories in check:

  • Pair a 1/3 cup of fresh berries with 2 tablespoons of unsalted nuts.
  • Drip raw carrots and baby bell peppers in 2 tablespoons of hummus.
  • Munch on apple slices with 1 tablespoon of old fashioned peanut butter.
  • Bite into crispy, crunchy pear slices with alternating bites of aged white cheddar cheese (limit cheese to 1 ounce).
  • Warm up a packet of hot plain instant oatmeal. Sprinkle with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries.
  • Couple raw veggies with hard-boiled egg
  • Mix water packet tuna fish with chopped apple, green onion and a dash of honey mustard. Scoop with celery sticks.
  • Top plain yogurt or cultured kefir milk with ground flax seed and fresh blueberries
  • Sip on a cup of hot vegetable minestrone soup.
  • Enjoy leftover roasted winter veggies, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onion roasted with fresh garlic and olive oil.

– Kim Markee, DoD Registered Dietician

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