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Environmental Nutrition: Ask the EN experts: Snacking

Kristen N. Smith, Ph.D., RDN, LD, Environmental Nutrition on

We’ve become a snacking nation, and in fact, the idea of snacking has lost its stigma. What was once discouraged as a “spoiler of appetites” has now come to be considered a healthful habit, but it can be easy to forget that not all snacks are considered equally healthy.

Pay attention to the driving force behind the snack — are you snacking due to hunger? A break? A reward? For stress management or comfort? Or does the snacking habit arise in mundane or mindless situations? Regardless of the driving force (which may be teased out individually through keeping track in a food journal), we can build nourishing snacks for when they are needed.

Here are some general tips for balanced snacking:

1. Aim for filling foods with good sources of protein or dietary fiber. Building your snacks around protein (like peanut butter or sunflower butter) or a fiber source (like whole grain crackers or air-popped popcorn) helps the snack to satisfy for longer.


2. Include a second (complementary) food for flavor, enjoyment, and nutrition. Pair your peanut butter with a sliced apple or banana. Include hummus with your whole grain crackers or a small helping of unsweetened dried fruit with your popcorn.

(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit

©2021 Belvoir Media Group, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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