A snack is a portion of food, often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged snack foods and other processed foods, as well as items made from fresh ingredients at home.

Traditionally, snacks are prepared from ingredients commonly available in the home. Often cold cuts, fruit, leftovers, nuts, sandwiches, and the like are used as snacks. The Dagwood sandwich was originally the humorous result of a cartoon character's desire for large snacks. With the spread of convenience stores, packaged snack foods became a significant business. Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick, and satisfying. Processed snack foods, as one form of convenience food, are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavors (such as flavored potato chips).

Beverages, such as coffee, are not generally considered snacks though they may be consumed along with or in lieu of snack foods.

A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a midnight snack.

This the Season for Healthy Snacking

Here are some great ideas for healthy snacking throughout the holidays.

Before the Holidays

Healthy snacking can be an important part of staying on target during the holidays. Regular snacks will keep you from being starved before a big meal which makes you more likely to overeat.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy holiday eating is easier with a few simple steps:

  • Stay away from the buffet table at holiday parties. Instead, take what you really enjoy, and walk away.
  • Don’t deny yourself, but control your portions of foods high in fat or added sugars.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation only. Alcohol is high in calories and getting tipsy may lead you to lose your healthy inhibition.
  • Although our thoughts of holidays are closely linked to food, remember that holidays are about family and loved ones.

There is no shortage of advice on how to have a happy, healthy holiday. But even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry, so it’s always good to have a plan that gets you on the right track following the holidays also…

 

After the Holidays

Amidst my mom’s famous chocolate swirl chocolate chip cookies and my father’s apple pie (with extra whipped cream), I have a tendency to lose track of all the healthy tips and good intentions. It happens to the best of us. So, now what?

  • Be smart about leftovers. Clean out all the leftover indulgent goodies. Leave them on the break room table at work; rewrap untouched cookies for a neighbor; or just get rid of them.
  • Instead, snack on nuts and other healthy alternatives. Time to dig in to that fruit basket! Check out our article on nuts to find the best fit for you: A Few Nuts a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
  • Drink plenty of water. Water will help you stay hydrated and calm the hunger that can come after overeating.

If you’ve over-indulged during the holiday, it’s okay to forgive yourself and get back on track. Go for a walk in the winter wonderland and snack smart!

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