Smart Snacking: Healthy Options to Keep You Satisfied

Summary: Smart snacking involves choosing healthy snacks over junk food. Raising your snacking game can keep you satiated for longer and boost your energy and activity levels without derailing your meal plan.

Even if you have three full meals a day, it can be tempting to reach for a bag of greasy potato chips in the middle of the afternoon. Unfortunately, a lot of impulsive snacking happens even when you’re not hungry, and excessive snacking can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity, in turn, is linked to many health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.

But if you’re someone who craves a salty or sugary fix between meals, know that snacking itself is not unhealthy. All you need to do is make smart choices about what you snack on. This means choosing healthy options over junk foods and practicing portion control.

Healthy snacks typically don’t contain added sugars, salt, or saturated fats. They also tend to be higher in protein and fiber, which helps curb your appetite so you feel full for longer. The added bonus: they’re good for you, and if you snack smart, they can even help you get closer to your fitness goals!

The importance of healthy snacks

As we mentioned, having a snack or two during the day is not a bad thing. It can help satisfy your hunger, making you less likely to overeat when mealtime rolls around.

There are other advantages too. Smart snacking between meals can prevent spikes or dips in your blood glucose levels, which is critical if you’re looking for healthy snacks for diabetics.

Healthy snacks aren’t just for adults, though. Healthy snacks for kids can help take the edge off their hunger in between meals, especially if you’re making snacks for your active toddler or a teenager going through a growth spurt. Small, nutrition-dense snacks can help improve their mood and sustain their energy levels. It’s also recommended that pregnant women eat healthy snacks during pregnancy to keep their energy levels up.

Finally, if you plan your meals and portion sizes well, healthy snacks through the day can help to rev up your metabolism, so you could lose weight snacking. Some suggest that you can lose weight by breaking your meals up into five healthy snacks throughout the day. Whether your goal is weight management or stable glucose levels, mindful moderation is crucial.

Healthy snack choices

When you’re looking for healthy snack options, note that processed snacks may not be the way to go, even if they’re marketed to make you think they are good for you. For example, protein bars may seem like a healthy treat but most contain a lot of added sugar and other artificial ingredients.

You should also be aware of portion sizes when snacking. As the adage goes, too much of anything can be bad for you. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, your snacks shouldn’t be more than 200 to 300 calories. That’s a little less than two whole apples or a handful of carrot sticks with hummus.

The next time you get hungry between meals, instead of reaching for a soda or candy bar, try one of these ten healthy snack options that are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats.

10 healthy snacks to choose from

  1. Eggs: There’s a reason so many people around the world start their day with eggs. These superfoods are a great healthy snack because they are high in protein and can hold off your hunger for a while. Eggs are also quite versatile, so you can have them hard-boiled, poached, fried or scrambled, or mixed with a variety of vegetables. Egg whites are a great, higher protein / lower fat substitution, as well.
  2. Nuts: Nuts are tiny powerhouses of energy. Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are all great sources of protein and healthy fats, and they’re easy to carry around as you go about your day. If you’re snacking on nuts, opt for unsalted nuts, as they are your best option for a healthy snack. Nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter are also good choices as long as they don’t contain added sugars (keep an eye out for the ‘natural’ options) and are eaten in moderation.
  3. Greek yogurt: To make the smart, healthy choice when it comes to Greek yogurt, stay away from those flavored with fruit — they usually contain added sugars. Instead, opt for plain Greek yogurt and jazz it up with fresh or frozen berries if you like.
  4. Cheese: Cheese sometimes gets a bad rep, but it can be a good, high-protein snack to keep hunger at bay. Cheese is also a great source of calcium. Try to stick to natural cheeses that are low in salt and avoid overly processed cheeses. Also, keep an eye on your portions because cheese is high in fat.
  5. Avocado: Avocados are packed with nutrients and have many health benefits. They contain healthy fats, which can help alleviate hunger. They are also full of vitamins B6, C, E, magnesium, potassium and more. Slice an avocado over a piece of whole-grain toast or a tortilla or whip up a small batch of guacamole the next time you’re craving a tasty snack.
  6. Hummus and fresh vegetables: The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, which are packed with protein and fiber. Instead of a store-bought dip or sour cream, dip your raw vegetables in hummus or use it as healthy spread on high-fiber crackers. Looking for an even healthier option? Try a homemade hummus recipe!
  7. Dark chocolate: Yes, you can make healthy choices and still enjoy chocolate. Stick with dark chocolate, though, which has fewer added sugars and is chock-full of flavanols (antioxidants linked to a lower risk of heart disease).
  8. Fruit: Low-carb diets often omit fruits because of their sugar content, but the sugars in fruits are natural, which makes them a healthy snack for satisfying a sweet tooth. Most fruits are also rich in beneficial fiber and antioxidants. Again, the key to enjoying fruit for maximum health benefits is portion control. Fruits can be eaten fresh, frozen, or canned (a healthier option as long as it isn’t in syrup).
  9. Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese is making a comeback! What’s neat about cottage cheese is that you can dress it up however your taste buds prefer. If you enjoy savory snacks, add everything bagel seasoning or green onions. If you have a sweet tooth, add pineapple or fresh berries to your cottage cheese.
  10. Popcorn: Popcorn is not just for the cinema. If you need a quick, starchy snack, air-popped popcorn is a healthy option, as long as you don’t overload it with butter and salt. You can easily air-pop popcorn in a microwave. Or, if you prefer pre-popped popcorn, look for organic popcorn that uses healthier oils like avocado or coconut.


Smart snacking by choosing healthy snacks can help you stave off hunger while maintaining your blood glucose levels and speeding up your metabolism.

So, the next time you get a hankering for a snack, grab a handful of unsalted almonds or a cube of cheddar cheese rather than corn chips. Mutual of Omaha provides a wealth of resources that can help you live a better, healthier life.

FAQs on Smart Snacking

1. Why do people snack?

People snack for a multitude of reasons. While many people snack because they are hungry, some people may be emotional eaters who snack when they are stressed, depressed, or worried. Other people snack just because they are bored.

One way to control emotional snacking is to practice mindful eating. Mindful eating involves paying attention to what, when and why you eat. Eating thoughtfully and with purpose may help you develop better eating habits.

2. What is the worst time to snack?

According to nutritionists, the worst time to snack is late in the evening. In a 2024 study, researchers found that eating late at night increases the likelihood of death due to cancer or diabetes. Many studies found that late-night stacks had a destabilizing effect on blood sugar levels.

3. Why is it important to plan your snacks?

Planning healthy snacks for the day or the week is important because it helps prevent you from grabbing junk food when you are hungry and need some sustenance between meals. If you know you usually get hunger pangs at about 10:00 a.m. every morning or 3:00 in the afternoon, keep some nuts or string cheese handy to hold you over until lunch.