Here in the U.S., it's considered standard for a person to eat three meals per day. Unfortunately, this often means people will go four or five hours at a stretch between meals -- which can be problematic, energy-wise. This is especially true for people who are physically active for much of their day, but of course, even sedentary folks are prone to "snack attacks".
If you find yourself feeling uncomfortably hungry between meals, your likely course of action is to go grab something to snack on. Sadly, for many individuals, the most readily obtainable foods are also of the "junk" variety. Junk food such as chips (or other salty foods), candy or cookies are some of the most popular snacks around, but they aren't particularly nutritious -- nor are they as satisfying as fresh food options, which can lead to overeating.
If you are a frequent snacker and at least a little bit health-conscious, your best bet is to pre-purchase or prepare your snack(s) in advance so as to avoid the allure of the vending machine, and to safeguard yourself from eating too much and ruining your dinner (or your diet!). Here are a few ideas (courtesy of glamour.com and realsimple.com) to keep you on track nutritionally, while also keeping your hunger at bay between meal times:
Greek Yogurt - One cup Greek yogurt. (130 Calories)
With 2 1/2 times the protein -- essential for building and maintaining muscle -- of regular yogurt and 15 to 20 percent of your daily requirement of calcium (necessary for strong bones and teeth), Greek yogurt is one of the smartest snacks out there. Regular Greek yogurt is much creamier than the nonfat variety, and still has only 2.5 grams of saturated fat.
Alternatively: Add a 1/2 cup of chopped fresh fruit or whole berries, such as strawberries or blueberries, to your yogurt for flavor, fiber, and Vitamin C. (158 Calories)
Hummus and Peas - One cup Snap Peas with 3 tablespoons Hummus for dipping. (106 Calories)
Chickpeas, the base ingredient of hummus, are very healthy because they do not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats. They are also rich in protein and are known to be effective in preventing buildup of cholesterol in the blood vessels, as well as maintain correct blood sugar levels.
Alternatively: Try Celery Sticks with Hummus and Olives - Top 3 celery sticks with 3 tablespoons hummus and 3 sliced kalamata olives. (129 Calories)
Pear and Almond Milk - One medium pear plus an 8-ounce glass of unsweetened almond milk. (136 Calories)
Of course, fruit is the perfect fiber-filled portable snack, but almond milk has its own benefits. Almond milk contains no cholesterol and only 5 mg of sodium per serving. Unlike other milk alternatives, plain almond milk contains only 8 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and the low amount of sugars in almond milk have a low glycemic nature, meaning our bodies fully digest them and use them as energy.
Crackers With Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread and Banana - Two crisp bread crackers, 1 tablespoon chocolate-hazelnut spread, and one small sliced banana. (214 Calories)