Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Snack Attack

By Courtney Westlake

We all get those mid-morning and mid-afternoon urges to hit the vending machines to calm our growling stomachs. Ignoring them might not be the answer.

"Snacking isn't necessarily bad when it's healthy," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "Your body craves all different kinds of snacks, from salty to sweet to crunchy. Everyone's different, and everyone's going to choose something different. We definitely want to listen to our body when we are hungry."

Jillson recommended counting to ten first before having a snack to determine if you are actually hungry or simply bored. If you are indeed hungry, having a healthy snack is a good thing.

The best snacks fill you up without packing too many calories.

"Fresh fruit or dried fruit, rice cakes, and really most snacks under 100-200 calories are good to have," Jillson said. "You want a handful of calories that will fill you up, but you also want to make a good choice."

An oatmeal cream pie, for example, is 300 calories, "which would take me personally about 47 minutes of walking," Jillson said.

"I could have rice cakes and an apple and even a banana that would equal same amount of calories, and my body would get a lot more energy from it," she added.

It's important to eat small meals throughout the day - breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks in between, Jillson said.

"It does increase your metabolism when you eat throughout the day," she said. "A handful of nuts, an apple, animal crackers - things like that you can keep in your office desk drawer or your dorm room."

Instead of having a candy jar in your office, maybe you and your coworkers could pitch in and have a snack basket of healthy snacks, Jillson suggested. It would also be beneficial to buy a bag of healthy snack food and divide the food into proper serving sizes for your convenience.

"Make sure you read the labels," Jillson added. "You don't want to have snacks that are high in fat or high in sugar."