Snack On This

Craving a little something, but not sure what's worth your while? One Weight Watchers Meetings leader shares her best snacking tips.
The Snack Food Makeover

Most of us just don't give snacks enough credit. "Snacks equal treats in many people's minds. Snacks do not equal fuel," says Liz Josefsberg, Director of Brand Advocacy for WeightWatchers.com and a Weight Watchers meetings leader in New York City. But Liz says there's no reason a snack can't satisfy your cravings and give your body more than just empty calories. "I teach members that snacks should act as tools to prevent you from getting too hungry, and to bridge energy gaps between meals."

So what sorts of snacks get Liz's seal of approval? "I'm always telling people to think about food combinations when they're choosing a snack. Consider the Weight Watchers Good Health Guidelines and try to achieve several within each snack," she says. A few hunger-squelching combos include:

1. Almonds and fruit. You'll get the benefits of dairy, fruit, protein and some healthy fat.

2. An apple and low-fat cheese. You've got some dairy, fruit and protein covered.

3. Low-fat cheese plus your favorite salty carb snack, or peanut butter or bean-based dip plus your favorite salty snack. You'll up your dairy or protein intake; also keep in mind that many soy-based chips give you a leg up over potato chips when it comes to protein and fiber.

Changing what you eat and how you perceive food is tough, so it's important to take it slowly. Replace a high-sugar item with something more nutritious, one snack at a time, Liz recommends. Then assess how you feel: Write down how long you feel full, how long the snack affects your energy level or how long you can concentrate at work. It's easier to make changes when you can "see" the benefit.

That said, it's not necessary to steer clear of all your favorite sweet treats. Deprivation can sometimes lead to its own cycle of overeating. Get the max from sugary snacks by freezing small, individually wrapped candy bars, since frozen foods take longer to consume. Liz reaches for a Weight Watchers snack bar when she's craving chocolate — the automatic portion control makes it a satisfying no-brainer. Or choose items with long-lasting eating-power like lollipops and sucking candies (and in a pinch, even gum!).

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