The plight of band directors often includes long days, longer weekends, and an overall environment that’s not conducive to healthy eating. With the start of a new school year just around the corner, this could be a great time to focus on better eating habits, one of which includes choosing healthier snacks.
When the day gets hectic and you need something to tide you over until your next meal, a quick bag of chips or a candy bar are convenient options but will do little to control your hunger and even less for your health. It should be fairly easy to find something that is both satiating and nutritious, but with deceptive marketing tactics and vague label laws, that task has become increasingly difficult. However, with some basic guidelines, a little prep work, a good cooler or office mini fridge, and some mental fortitude, you can make better choices and find healthier options.
Here are some quick tips for choosing a healthier snack.
- In general, snacks should be higher in protein or fiber and lower in fat and carbs. Protein satiates longer than carbohydrates and fats. I consider a high-protein snack to have at least half the total calories coming from protein. To figure this out, take the grams of protein and multiply by 4. Then take this number and divide it by the total calories.
- If the snack is low in protein, then the next best option is one high in fiber. If the fiber content is 20% or more of the %DV on the label, it’s considered a high-fiber option. Just FYI, you should be getting in at least 25–30 grams of fiber per day as a general rule.
- The fewer ingredients, the better. For example, if you buy a bag of peanuts, the only ingredients should be peanuts and maybe salt.
- Try to keep the total calories around two hundred.
- It should be something you actually want to eat, no matter how healthy the snack is; if you don’t want to eat it, you eventually gravitate to a less healthy option.
To help you get started, here are a few healthy snack ideas:
- Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt with Pecan Pieces and Blueberries
- Peanut butter and bananas (I like either PB2 peanut butter or Woodstock Organic Peanut Butter.)
- Hummus and cucumber (I like the Hope Hummus brand).
- Beef Jerky. (Tillamook Zero Sugar Original Beef Jerky is a good option.)
- Hard-boiled eggs with a few dashes of Tapatio Hot Sauce
- Cottage cheese and sliced pears or peaches
- Protein bars. These can be tricky; look for the fewest ingredients and the lowest amount of added sugar. RX bars and Larabars are good options.
- Carrot and celery slices with Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing
- Deli-sliced turkey wrapped around thinly sliced red bell peppers and apples
- Homemade trail mix
- 1 cup HEB brand cashews or Nic’s Mix Pistachios and Almonds
- ½ cups dried fruit of choice
- ½ cups Skinny Pop popcorn
Next level Ideas:
- Watermelon, basil, and mozzarella skewers
- ½ cup cubed melon
- ½ cup cubed mozzarella
- 5-10 leaves of basil
- Make the skewers in advance so you can grab and go.
- Mason-jar salad: Place the ingredients in the jar in the order listed below. This will keep the lettuce from getting soggy.
- 2-3 tablespoons of dressing at the bottom of the jar. I like a nice oil and vinegar.
- ¼ cup diced carrots
- ¼ cup diced avocado
- ¼ cup diced red, green, or orange bell peppers
- 1-2 cups of lettuce or spinach
- ¼ Feta cheese at the very top
- Frozen yogurt banana poppers
- 1 peeled and sliced banana
- 1 cup low-sugar Greek yogurt
- Pecan pieces
- Coconut shavings
- Take the banana slices and dip them in the yogurt, then sprinkle them with coconut shavings and almonds. Lay them on a baking sheet and freeze for about two hours.
- Tuna or chicken salad with thin carrot and celery slices: Use the carrots and celery to scoop the salad instead of crackers.
- 1 can of tuna or chicken
- ½ diced apple
- 1-2 diced pickles
- ¼ to 1/3 cup yellow or spicy mustard (Try not to use mayo or use small amounts)
- 2 tablespoons diced pecans
- I put all the ingredients in a blender and pulse a few times; you can also mix by hand.
- ¼ to ½ avocado with shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a squeeze of lime (Make sure the cheese has “Reggiano” on the label). This cheese is a little pricey but tastes amazing and packs plenty of calcium and protein in small portions. Squeeze the lime over the avocado and lightly sprinkle with the cheese.
If the idea of prepping an entire week’s worth of snacks is overwhelming, try starting with two or three days a week and building upon that foundation, or team up with a coworker and swap days, bringing each other healthy snacks.
In the end, despite your best intentions, the environment often dictates behavior. If you have help, support, and healthier, quickly accessible snacks, making better choices becomes easier. Remember, healthy eating is more about improvement than perfection.
Jerry Elizondo, RD, LD, CSOWM was born and raised in central Texas. He has been a practicing dietitian for over twenty years and is a board-certified specialist in obesity and weight management. He has counseled thousands of patients preparing for bariatric surgery and is the author of Dietary Jerry’s Weight Loss Survival Guide.
Jerry and his wife, Amanda, live in Austin, where he remains an outdoor enthusiast and takes every chance he gets to go rock climbing, mountain biking, or swimming in a Texas river. instagram @dietary_jerry
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