There is no arguing that teens love to snack. Most teens head straight to the fridge as soon as they get home from school. Unfortunately they don’t always make the right snack choices. Snacking is important and choosing healthy, nourishing snacks can give you the energy you need to live your life and feel amazing.
Teens seem to know exactly which foods they shouldn’t eat – and then eat them anyways! Favourite teen snacks include cookies, chocolate bars, chips, soft drinks, pizza, French fries, hot dogs, burgers, and ice cream. All of these high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can lead to weight gain if eaten on a regular basis. And with almost half of all Canadian teens already overweight, this is a major health concern.
Another bad snacking habit is not snacking at all. When you go five or six (or seven or eight) hours without eating you are setting yourself up for low blood sugar. Low blood sugar makes you tired, cranky, irritable, anxious or nervous, gives you mood swings and makes it very difficult to concentrate. In severe cases it can also cause headaches, dizziness and fainting. Eating every three hours helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable – and this means snacking.
Good snacking means three things:
- Eating a healthy snack (or meal) every 3 hours.
- Eat healthy portions
- Choose balanced, healthy snacks
Even when we are choosing healthy snacks we need to make sure we don’t over-do it. Try portioning out your snacks into single serving containers so that they are ready to go when you are hungry. This also makes it really easy to take snacks with you to school or work – places where we are more likely to skip snacking or choose bad snacks.
Another guideline for smart snackers is to get involved! Tell your parents what healthy snacks you want, or go along with them to the grocery store to select fruits and vegetables you enjoy. Your parents are more likely to get you what you ask for if they know it’s healthy and that you’ll eat it.
30 Smart Snacks
The best snacks are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and low-fat proteins. A balanced snack has at least two of these food categories combined – like a fruit with a low-fat dairy, or a low-fat protein with a whole grain.
- Apple slices with raisins and a slice of low-fat cheddar cheese
- Banana sliced in half and spread lightly with almond butter
- Hummus with carrots and red peppers
- Hummus with whole grain crackers
- Black bean dip with ½ whole grain pita
- Bean burrito
- Cut up vegetables with low fat yogurt dressing
- Steamed edamame (soybeans) with sesame seeds or sliced almonds
- Low-fat yogurt parfait with fresh or frozen berries and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts
- Oatmeal with almond milk and blueberries
- Red grapes and mozzarella cheese
- Rice cakes spread with apple butter
- Whole grain crackers with pear slices and honey
- Small handful of almonds with dried cranberries
- Almond milk and mango smoothie
- Tuna wrap on a spelt or whole-grain wrap with sprouts
- Half a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce and tomato
- Whole grain cereal with soy milk and sliced bananas
- One half cup of trail mix (homemade or store bought)
- Whole-grain English muffin spread lightly with hazelnut butter
- Fruit kabobs with strawberry, pineapple, grapes and apples with a side of low-fat yogurt
- Frozen grapes (taste like mini-popsicles!) with a handful of raw almonds
- Carrots and almond butter (try it – it’s delicious)
- Protein smoothies (whey or rice protein, berries/mango/peaches, almond milk, ½ banana and ice)
- Ezekiel bread with apple or almond butter
- Plain popcorn (no butter) sprinkled lightly with parmesan cheese
- Salsa and home baked whole grain pita chips
- Celery stalks with cottage cheese and raisins
- Low-sodium pretzels dipped in soy nut butter or almond butter
- Homemade frozen yogurt popsicles (just freeze low-fat yogurt in a popsicle mold or ice cube trays)
There are hundreds of healthy snack ideas that even the pickiest teen can enjoy. Share your favourite smart snacks in the comments below!