Did you know that February is “Snack Food Month?” No, you’re not dreaming -- this wonderful month really exists and the professional nutritionists at Zing Bars look forward to it all year long. We delight in celebrating healthy, energizing, great-tasting snacks! This is, after all, how Zing Bars got its start – by creating healthy snacks to provide long-lasting, dependable energy for our clients. To understand the snacking revolution that’s taking place in the American diet, let’s look at the shifting perception of snacking from something guilt-provoking to something health-promoting. Snacks used to be considered an unhealthy indulgence; a treat between meals that should be avoided. Nowadays, however, people are understanding the importance of incorporating healthy snacking into their daily routines. At long-last, this sage advice that we nutritionists have been advocating is being heeded! “Snacking is an opportunity for nourishment,” according to Julie Harrington, registered dietitian and Culinary Communications Consultant of RDelicious Kitchen. “When most think of snacking, it is often thought with ‘snack food,’ but this is the best time to include whole foods. A great mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats is a well-balanced snack with staying power to keep you fueled and energized to get you to the next meal.” Sound familiar? Gen-Xers and Millennials are leading the charge on incorporating healthy snacks into their diet with the same importance as they do meals. In fact, 39% of Millennials report that they snack for focus and energy, according to a recent Mintel report. If you’re a Zing Bar fan, you know that choosing healthy snacks helps regulate your blood sugar and improve your focus, concentration and energy levels throughout the day. Carb-heavy foods such as bagels, pasta and rice, on the other hand, can leave you feeling tired and groggy. Healthy Snacks Help You Eat Less For us at Zing Bars, this shift in snacking perception is very exciting. We’ve been saying that snacking is a crucial part of healthy eating since we started our nutrition counseling practices nearly 15 years ago! And we’re not alone. Kara Golis, RDN, at Byte Sized Nutrition notes, “Having nutritious snacks in between meals can help to keep you full and focused all day long and may even prevent you from overeating at future meals. Aim to include foods high in protein and fiber to maximize the staying power of the snack!” Kara introduces an often-misunderstood point – snacking can actually help you eat less. Most of us can remember a time when we ate lunch at noon and then didn’t eat again until dinner at 7PM. You likely felt famished by dinnertime. Research shows that when people are over-hungry, they over-eat and store those excess calories as fat. Snacks help prevent this. As dietitian Elizabeth Ward at Better Is the New Perfect says, “You don't need to avoid snacks. In fact, you need them if you don't have time to eat a full meal. Snacks should be regarded as mini-meals, not meal-wreckers.” Healthy Snack Tips and Suggestions Hopefully you’re now thinking “I already love snacking, so how do I benefit in all the ways you described above?” We’re glad you asked:
- Read labels. Look for healthy carbs, quality protein and healthy fat. As an example, our Dark Chocolate Mint Bars contain 26g of low-glycemic carbs, 11g of quality protein and 8g of healthy fat from sunflower seeds. That’s perfectly-balanced, professional nutritionist-recommended energy to get you through your day.
- Plan ahead! Oftentimes, the main reason we make unhealthy snack choices is because we’re eating whatever is nearby or convenient. (Anyone who’s ever eaten a bag of chips because that was all they had in the cabinet could probably vouch for that, no expensive study needed.) Outsmart yourself by planning ahead. Keep Zing Bars, fruit, and pre-cut veggies or nuts at your desk during the day so they’re there when you need them.
- “Healthify” your favorite snacks. For example, are you a chocoholic? Keep a couple squares of dark chocolate around, or choose one of Zing’s dark chocolate-covered flavors. Are you more of a fruit fanatic? Reach for fresh or frozen fruit. Stir dried fruit into plain yogurt. Or, allow us to tempt you with our nut butter and fruit Zing Bars!