You're busy, and sitting down to three meals a day may be a thing of the past, at least for now. Snacking your way through the day is OK, as long as you snack smart. Here are some simple rules of thumb to get the good nutrition you need to stay energized.
Cookies, candy, and the rest of your child's chicken nuggets and fries are not the best snacks because they don't provide the nutrients moms need to keep going, especially if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Protein and fiber keep you fuller for longer. In addition, protein-packed foods, including eggs, dairy products, and soy, are also loaded with other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates, like fiber, are present in such healthy foods as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Snacks should be part of your daily calorie allowance to gain (during pregnancy), maintain, or lose weight. Don't forget to account for snack calories.
These suggestions take the guess-work out of healthy snacks:
Prepare this Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie with regular milk or soy milk: Combine 1 cup milk, 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.
Cherry Vanilla Sipper: Combine ¾ cup frozen sweet pitted cherries, 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.
Almond Delight: Combine 1 peeled medium banana, 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons almond butter, and 3 ice cubes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.
Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian, a writer, and mother of three. She has worked at the Joslin Diabetes Center and the American Heart Association, and for seven years counseled children and adults about healthy eating and disease prevention at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston.
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