Feel Good Foods: Top 5 Guilt Free Snack Foods!

by Stephen Cabral

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First off, are you the type of person who should be snacking
between meals?

There are a few factors that determine whether or not someone should be munching before and after the lunchtime hour.

The 3 types of people who SHOULD snack between meals:
1. Someone who wants to spike their metabolism with fat loss as their ultimate goal
2. People with hypoglycemia, or other low blood sugar issues
3. Anyone who wants to maintain steady energy levels throughout the day

The 3 types of people who SHOULD NOT snack between meals:
1. Anyone who has trouble eating small meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
2. Someone who chooses cookies and soda over healthier snacks
3. People who don't pre-portion out their snacks

As a general rule, anyone who is interested in overall health and weight loss should aim to eat a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. So, if you are one of those people who currently fall into the "SHOULD NOT" be snacking category, you should to be working on portion control and healthier choices.

Snacking is also one of the best ways to curb your appetite, and consequently prevent you from over eating at meals. Your best bet is always to consume a small snack, preferably high in fiber, about 30 minutes before heading out to dinner.

One problem is that many people who are preparing to go out to dinner that night, go in with the mindset of telling themselves not to eat all afternoon in anticipation of having a larger dinner...

You may convince yourself that since you're going to be having a large meal later on that night, you should "save some of those calories" for later. This is called "food banking" and can have serious consequences on your waist-line.

One of my favorite tips is to have a small fibrous snack or a salad before dinner in hopes of filling up your stomach with a healthier choice, and therefore, eliminating your urge to overindulge.

So what really are the best foods to choose when looking for a guilt free snack?

You probably know by now that green or other colorful vegetables are the best possible choices when it comes to snacking, but for most of us we need alternatives to the usual spinach, broccoli, carrots (baby carrots don't count), cauliflower, and peppers.

Here are the top 5 guilt free healthy snacks you can feel good about eating:

1. Low Lactose Cheese (or string cheese) and a piece of fruit
Why it's good for you: Low fat/low lactose cheese has far less fat than regular cheeses and many come in easy to use individually wrapped wedges. You can spread 2-3 of them on pieces of fruit for a well-balanced snack consisting of both protein and carbohydrates.

2. Lower Glycemic Fruits: Grapefruits, Oranges, Pears, Apples, and Berries
Why it's good for you: While I'm not going to say that you shouldn't eat a variety of fruits, these particular ones will limit your body's insulin response compared to other fruits, such as bananas. It's also a good idea to add some protein (cheese or nuts) to your snack whenever choosing a fruit.

3. Greek Style Plain Low Fat Yogurt and Berries
Why it's good for you: The live and active cultures in a good quality yogurt have numerous healthy benefits including improving your digestive tract. The problem with most yogurts is the high levels of sugar that companies add to make their products to make them taste better. Your best bet is to buy a plain, low fat, low sugar yogurt and then add in your own fruit slices, cinnamon, or a touch of natural honey for flavor. Some of my favorites are of the Greek and Icelandic variety.

4. "Just a Handful" Almonds, Walnuts, and Pecans
Why it's good for you: You can store or take these pre-sized packages anywhere. These 3 specific nuts are high in fiber, omega 3's, and are loaded with protein and good fats. They are at the top of the chart when it comes to suppressing your appetite and leaving you satisfied. Because they are high in calories, try to keep your serving size to ¼ cup. Follow the 20 minute rule with these foods, since they will expand in your stomach and give you a "fuller" sensation.<

5. Low Fat Cottage Cheese and Berries
Why it's good for you: Dairy and calcium aid in the weight loss process. By adding some powerful antioxidants like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries you have yourself a high energy pick-me-up!

As a general rule stay away from most products that are sold in a box or bag. They tend to be over processed and lacking in nutritional value...

If you are wondering if a particular food is good for you just take a look at the back of the package and read the nutritional label. Look for high fiber, low sugar, and for the product's main ingredients to come from an all-natural, unprocessed food source.

Keep in mind that you don't have to eliminate your favorite snacks, just look for healthier versions of them. It seems ironic, but the healthier the food is, the harder it is to find. So if it first you can't seem to locate a more sensible option, keep looking - it's out there!