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How can I snack healthier?

By Rachel Begun, MS, RD, CDN

“A new year, a new you!” That’s what they always say, isn’t it? And I hope that if you’re looking to start new, you get to – whether you’re starting on New Year’s Day or not. But changing your snacking habits in one day isn’t a simple process. I mean, who’s ready to go cold turkey when you’re still thinking about that deliciously warm turkey you enjoyed a few nights ago?

But snacking can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan. A snack is just a small portion of food that is often portable, convenient and easy to eat quickly and/or on-the-go. Here’s the thing: whether it’s healthful or not is up to you! Keep reading for healthy snacking ideas, and a nutritious dessert recipe.

Due to our increasingly fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles, snacking has become a multi-billion dollar industry. This is great for convenience and portability, but not necessarily for our health, as most manufactured snacks on the market are high in fat and calories and low in nutrients. If you tend to snack on foods with empty calories, you’re not quite optimizing your health and vitality.

When snacks consist of wholesome, nutrient-dense ingredients, they can be an essential component of a healthy diet. Healthy snacks keep energy levels up, keep your mind focused and alert, help you to maintain a steady metabolism, prevent hunger, and contribute significant amounts of essential nutrients that help your body run efficiently.

For snacks that pack a nutritional punch and keep you feeling full, it’s best to consume a combination of the following nutrients:

  • Complex carbohydrates – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds

  • Protein – eggs, lean meat, low-fat milk products, beans and nuts

  • Heart-healthy fats – nuts, seeds, fish, avocados and vegetable oils

Healthful snacking isn’t just about what you consume, though. It’s about how you consume it.

  • Use your senses when snacking. Try to avoid eating while moving, watching television or using the computer. Focusing your senses—sight, smell, taste and touch—on what you are eating will help to satisfy you and prevent you from overeating.

  • Eat foods that you love. There is no sense in eating something “healthful” if you don’t like it. You’ll only be left unsatisfied and craving.

  • Eat slowly and wait a few minutes before reaching for more. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. When you eat fast, you are more likely to over-consume calories during this 20 minute lag time.

The variety of healthy snacking options is endless, and what you should choose to eat is entirely based on your own likes and preferences. Below are several quick and convenient snacking ideas to get you started, as well as one of my favorite recipes.

Snacking Ideas

  • Hummus with whole grain crackers and veggie sticks

  • Guacamole with corn tortilla chips

  • Celery sticks with all-natural peanut or almond butter and raisins

  • Low-fat yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of whole grain granola or cereal

  • Whole grain crackers with cheese and apple slices

  • Whole grain, high fiber energy bars

  • Any mix of dried fruits and nuts – aim for dried fruits prepared without sugar or preservatives

  • Your favorite flavor of FiberLove bar

ChocoCocoNut Cookies


  • 2 cups walnut pieces

  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 egg whites, whisked until frothy

  • 1/8 cup plus 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ cup coconut flakes

  • ½ cup large semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a cookie sheet. Grind the walnut pieces and cinnamon in a small food processor to a flour-like consistency. Mix the walnut cinnamon mixture with the egg whites, honey and vanilla extract to make a batter. Mix in the coconut flakes. Batter should thicken. Toss in chocolate chips if desired. Drop equal-sized portions of batter onto cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

Makes 12 cookies. Enjoy!

For more from Rachel, visit her website, follow her on Twitter @RachelBegunRD, or head to her Pinterest page.