15 Healthy Low-Calorie Snack Ideas

“Don’t eat between meals.” If you’ve ever heard that advice, you might want to take it with a grain of salt. If you go more than four or five hours between meals, a mid-afternoon snack might be just what the doctor ordered to help you keep your blood sugar steady.

Muesli, nuts and dried berries and fruitsPhoto: Shutterstock

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #1: Keep your snacks to 150 calories or less

The danger of snacks is that they can become more like extra meals if you go overboard. First, make sure you’re truly hungry—and not just bored or stressed or craving chocolate—before reaching for a snack. Then limit yourself to 150 calories per snack. This will help keep your snacking “honest.” After all, it’s hard to find a chocolate bar with only 150 calories. And if you’re hankering for a chocolate bar, but a healthier snack doesn’t appeal, you’re probably not truly hungry.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #2: Beware of low-fat snacks

Studies show that people tend to eat about 28 per cent more of a snack when it’s low-fat because they think they’re saving on calories. But low-fat snacks such as cookies only have about 11 per cent fewer calories than their full-fat counterparts. Stick to the same amount you’d eat if you thought the snack was full-fat.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #3: Plate your snacks

Eat straight out of the bag and you’re guaranteed to eat more, whether it’s chips, pretzels, or cookies. Instead, put a small portion on a plate, seal up the bag and put it away, then sit down and enjoy your snack.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #4: Grab the whole bag

A single serving bag, that is. You’re much more likely to stop after one serving if you don’t have to measure it out yourself. If paying more for extra packaging that will eventually clog landfills bothers you, separate your snacks yourself into reusable single-serving containers when you get home from the grocery store so they’re ready to grab when you’re ready to eat them.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #5: Pour a handful of nuts

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and cashews contain the healthy monounsaturated fats that lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. And because they’re packed with protein and “good” fat, they won’t raise blood sugar as much as crackers or pretzels do. Because many nuts are high in calories (almonds are the lowest), stick to an amount that will fit in the palm of your hand.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #6: Have a few whole-grain crackers with peanut butter

You’ll eat more protein and fewer carbs than if you have a bigger pile of crackers with no peanut butter, and your blood sugar won’t rise as much.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #7: Snack on raw veggies

Get in an extra serving of vegetables by nibbling on cherry tomatoes, carrots, red and green peppers, cucumbers, broccoli crowns, and cauliflower. Eat them plain or dip them into nonfat yogurt, a light salad dressing, or hummus (stick with 1 to 2 tablespoons’ worth).

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #8: Spread some black bean salsa over eggplant slices

The salsa has only about 15 grams of carbs, 80 calories, and 1 gram of fat. (This simple eggplant recipe has all your favourite winter flavours.)

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #9: Sip a small cup of vegetable soup

Cook non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, onion, celery, green beans, and squash in some vegetable or chicken stock. It’s filling, full of veggies, and low in carbs. (Find out how eating beans can speed weight loss and boost your health.)

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #10: Indulge in a few decadent bites

Have a snack of three dried apricots, a small piece of dark chocolate (about the size of a square of baking chocolate), and three walnuts or almonds, suggests Vicki Saunders, RD, who teaches nutrition education programs at St. Helena Hospital in Napa Valley, California. Savour every nibble!

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #11: Blend a fruit smoothie

Combine half of a chopped banana, 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogourt, and a non-nutritive sweetener, and blend until smooth.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #12: Freeze grapes and peeled bananas

Seal them in a sandwich bag and throw it into the freezer. Once frozen, they’re a refreshing and healthy treat. You can eat 20 red seedless grapes and still consume only 100 calories. (This is why you shouldn’t be throwing out those banana “strings.”)

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #13: Eat an apple—and the skin

An apple with the skin contains about 3 grams of fibre. The skin packs a double whammy, carrying healthy soluble fibre that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and antioxidants that fight free radicals and lower the risk of diabetes complications.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #14: Try low-fat string cheese

Each one contains only 80 calories. These are one of the few portable goodies rich in sugar-steadying protein.

Low-Calorie Snack Idea #15: Have your chocolate ‘bar’ frozen

By that we mean enjoy a frozen fudge pop. They taste delightfully chocolatey but contain only about 100 calories.

Check out 30 Healthy Snacks No Adult Has to Feel Guilty About Eating!

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada