If you find your stomach grumbling in between meals, it's better to have a small snack than to try to hold out until the next meal, even if you're trying to lose weight, according to MayoClinic.com. A snack made up of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and nuts and seeds can help keep you from overeating at your next meal. Just watch your portion size and try to keep your snack under 100 calories, recommends the American Diabetes Association.
Vegetables with Hummus
Non-starchy vegetables make particularly good snack foods since they are low in energy density, or calories per gram, so you can eat a lot of them without consuming very many calories. Dip your vegetables in hummus to add flavor and some protein to help you feel full for longer. You can eat 2 tablespoons of hummus along with a cup of either carrots, bell pepper or broccoli for under 100 calories. Snap peas, celery, cucumber, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms are also nutritious low-calorie dipping vegetables. If you're not a big fan of hummus, you could also use a ranch or vegetable dip made with low-fat Greek yogurt to dip your veggies into.
Ants on a Log
Go back to your childhood and make yourself ants on a log. Take a tablespoon of peanut butter, spread it thinly on a few celery sticks and top each "log" with a few dried cranberry or raisin "ants." Although they are high in calories, nuts and nut butters, like peanut butter, help you get more nutrients in your diet and make it easier to stick to a low-calorie diet and lose weight, according to an article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in September 2008.
Caprese Salad Towers
Layer tomato slices, slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves to create a caprese salad tower, then drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top for added flavor. Including calcium-rich foods like low-fat dairy products in your weight-loss diet can help you lose both fat and weight as long as you stick within your calories for the day, according to a study published in "Obesity Research" in July 2005.
Vegetable and Cheese Kebabs
Alternate vegetables and cubes of cheese on skewers to make nutritious vegetable and cheese kebabs. Try bell peppers, cucumber, grape tomatoes and red onion with either low-fat Swiss or low-fat cheddar cheese for a tasty snack. You could also use leftover grilled or roasted vegetables along with balls of fresh mozzarella cheese to make your kebabs.
If you'd like a slightly larger snack that can fill in for a meal, make a green smoothie. Toss a handful of spinach, kale or other mild green leafy vegetable into the blender along with a small amount of low-fat milk or 100-percent fruit juice and your favorite frozen fruits to make a delicious smoothie. Berries and bananas work well, as do pineapple, mango and peaches. Although it'll increase the calories of your smoothie, adding a protein source like low-fat Greek yogurt or nut butter will make your smoothie more filling.
- MayoClinic.com: Snacks: How They Fit Into Your Weight-loss Plan
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight
- MedlinePlus: Snacks for Adults
- University of Illinois Extension: Healthy Snacks
- American Diabetes Association: Snacks
- Obesity Research: Effects of Calcium and Dairy on Body Composition and Weight Loss in African-American Adults
- Yoga Journal: Build a Better Smoothie
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.