For many of us, the season of gluttony begins with candy-laden Halloween, continues through bountiful Thanksgiving and festive Christmas, and wraps up with party-time New Year’s Eve. January hopefully represents a clean slate and, for many people, a cleaner plate.
While lifestyle and diet resolutions are not new, the new year is still a welcome and opportune time to make a fresh start in healthy eating, including developing better snacking habits.
Indeed, finding snacks that fit into a resolved new way of eating is not always easy, especially when snacks have long been viewed as an indulgent reward. The good news for those intent on starting 2011 with a different snacking mindset is that a wider array of better-for-you products are available and the overall approach to eating better is more focused on sensibility than on fleeting fads.
Here are some tips for following up season’s greetings with more reasoned eatings:
- Think big picture. Many diet and health experts agree that a more general, practical approach to snacking is easier to adhere to than a specific and often rigid diet. Balance and moderation may not be the most buzzworthy terms, but they are the basis of success.
- Follow your natural instincts. As more people resolve to eat green and clean, especially at the start of another year, a growing number of organic and natural food products are available at their supermarket. Snyder’s of Hanover’s popular line of organic snack foods, for instance, includes Organic Pretzel Sticks, available in honey wheat, multi-grain and 8 grains and seeds varieties.
- Pack some extra nutrient punch. If you are going to snack, why not add some other healthy ingredients? Try multi-grain snack foods, for instance, to inject some fiber into your daily diet.
- Remember, restricted diets don’t mean restricted taste. If you, like millions of Americans, are looking for gluten-free products, you can find many more choices on today’s grocery shelves. All kinds of your favorite snacks, from cookies to chips to pretzels, are easier to find than ever before – Snyder’s of Hanover, for example, now offers Gluten Free Sticks. These treats can be enjoyed by those who must follow gluten-free diets on a doctor’s recommendation – and those who just want to try something different.
- Crunch it up. Studies have shown that snacks with a crunch provide a more satisfying snacking experience. Keeping this in mind, make sure to stock your pantry with a variety of crunchy apples, carrots, and pretzels to keep you from reaching for that sugary donut instead.
- Gain some (portion) control. Like moderation and balance, watching one’s portions isn’t a trendy notion, but it is a tried-and-true approach to healthy snacking. Sitting down at the computer or in front or the television with pre-packaged 100-calorie snack packs of popular treats like Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels, ensures that you won’t go overboard – or over recommended portion sizes.
- Add some flavor. Take advantage of the many flavors available in today’s snack foods that can satisfy your cravings and allow you to savor what you’re eating. Snackers craving some heat might enjoy spicy varieties like buffalo wing and jalapeno flavored pretzel pieces, while those with a sweet tooth can get their fix with choices like honey-tinged or cinnamon-dusted snacks.
- Indulge just enough. Watching what you eat doesn’t mean you have to swear off everything tasty that you love – even chocolate. A handful of chocolate covered pretzels are still a good choice compared to other high fat, high calorie chocolate snacks.
- Balance eating with moving. Again, it’s not a news flash that exercise is important to the body’s metabolism and to overall health and wellness, but taking time to engage in some extra physical activity (it could be treadmill time or even opting for the stairs instead of the elevator) makes snacking all the much more satisfying, and less guilt-inducing. Plus, if you’re used to just doing cardio now is the time to amp up your routine with weights and resistance training and see results much faster.
Ultimately, improving your eating and lifestyle habits doesn’t have to mean radical change. From shedding those extra pounds that crept up during the fall and early winter holidays, to pledging to eat in a more organic, natural or sustainable way, resolutions don’t have to be so daunting. And by the time next January rolls around, you may not even need to make such resolutions in the first place.