Snacking has the potential of being quite detrimental to our diet. No matter how well balanced our meals are, it is often hard to maintain the same habits when reaching into the cupboard for a snack. Unfortunately, we often snack because we’re bored or feeling emotional, not because we’re actually hungry. Whatever the reason may be, snacking often involves reaching for a bag of Doritos or a tasty cake. The problem with these kinds of snack foods is that they don’t provide us with healthy nutrients, making them wasted calories. These wasted calories don’t contribute many nutrients and they tend to not fill us up, which can then lead to over consumption. BUT before we get discouraged and think that snacking is just a bad habit, it is important to realize that it doesn’t have to have such a negative connotation. When we “snack smart,” it can actually be good for us. With a little bit of creativity and thought, snacking can actually be beneficial to our diet. Check out the following snack options that will provide energy and nutrients while satisfying those dreaded cravings.

Snacks with 200 calories or less:

o   One tablespoon peanut butter spread on slices of a medium apple

o   One cup tomato soup with five whole-grain crackers

o   Three cups air-popped popcorn sprinkled with three tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

o   Tri-color veggie snack: 6 baby carrots, 10 sugar snap peas (or green pepper strips), 6 cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat ranch dressing for dipping

o   Toaster waffle topped with 1⁄2 cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt

o   Six whole-wheat crackers and one slice low- fat Colby cheese

o   Fruit smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, 1⁄2 cup frozen strawberries and 1⁄2 banana

o   One 6-inch flour tortilla with 1⁄4 cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa

Snacks with 200-300 calories:

o   Whole wheat pita cut into wedges with 2 tablespoons hummus for a dip

o   Yogurt parfait: Layer 6 ounces fat-free yogurt, 1⁄2 cup berries and 1⁄4 cup granola

o   Trail mix: Mix 20 almonds, miniature box of raisins, and 1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds

o   Instant oatmeal made with fat-free milk with 1 tablespoon honey, 1⁄2 cup sliced peaches and dash of cinnamon

o   One 4-ounce fat-free, ready-to-eat vanilla pudding with 1⁄2 cup fresh fruit and 5 vanilla wafers

o   Veggie pizzas: Split whole wheat English muffin. Top with 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, 1⁄2 cup diced fresh veggies and one ounce low-fat mozzarella cheese

o   Cinnamon-raisin mini-bagel spread with one tablespoon peanut butter

o   Whole-grain toaster waffle with 1 1⁄2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread

o   Banana split: banana sliced length-wise topped with 1⁄2 cup frozen yogurt and a tablespoon of chopped nuts