Nine Hacks for Healthy Snacks
Nine Hacks for Healthy Snacks

Use behavioral economics to improve the nutrition quality of your snacks

Eating habits for adults and children are changing dramatically with a shift from three square meals to all day snacking.

Snacking now accounts for up to one quarter of our daily calories, and this healthy snacks tip sheet offers some great suggestions how to make those snacks both delicious and nutritious. 

Did you know how we buy food and where we store it can have a big impact on our chances of choosing healthy snacks? Choose from the following "hacks" or suggestions to improve your food environment and make healthy snacking easier. 

Healthy Snack Hacks:

  • Healthy snacks combine foods from at least two food groups and often include protein-rich foods that promote satiety, keeping you satisfied longer between meals. Pair milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, hard cooked eggs or peanut butter (convenient, affordable protein-rich foods) with a food from another food group such as an apple, whole grain crackers or celery.
  • Use smaller containers, plates or utensils for foods you wish to limit. Once you get home from the store, immediately portion out foods by serving size, to avoid eating straight from the container which increases consumption. 
  • Aim for the trifecta when it comes to snacking. Stock your house, car or office with food group foods that are your favorites, convenient and affordable/available. Apples, nut butters, cheese and whole grain crackers are great examples of convenient, affordable favorites that you can mix and match. Give yourself healthy options to choose between. 
  • Don't go shopping while you're hungry. Snack wisely to avoid sharp feelings of hunger before you head to the grocery store. Make sure you pick up a variety of foods from all five food groups so you can have healthy snacks on hand.


Kitchen Hacks for Healthy Snacks:

  • Be mindful of what you leave out on your counters. Put cereals, soda, chips, etc away in cupboards and leave fruit or other healthy snacks out on the counters. Keep your refrigerator stocked with high protein foods pre-portioned for snacking, like yogurt, hard cooked eggs or reduced-fat string cheese. 
  • You are more likely to eat the first food you see, so place healthy snack foods like yogurt, veggie sticks or fruits where they can easily be seen and consumed. Use clear containers to store foods you want to encourage, put less healthful or more indulgent items behind closed doors or at the bottom of the fridge/freezer. 
  • Make tempting foods inconvenient. If possible, move the pantry to another area of the home. 
  • If you are in the market for a new fridge, look for a one with the freezer on the bottom. This makes it easier to keep healthy, refrigerated options at eye level. If possible, configure your kitchen so that the fridge opens towards the sink. This decreases the time needed to prep foods by making it easier to wash produce right out of the fridge.
  • Make your kitchen less "loungeable". Banish the TV from the kitchen so you’re less likely to linger and snack mindlessly.

How you hack your snacks is up to you. Start by using the Healthy Eating Planner to determine which food groups to boost. 

Low in whole grains and milk and dairy foods? Prepare parfaits with low-fat yogurt, oatmeal or granola and fruit in clear containers and store them at eye level in the refrigerator. 

Need to eat more fruit? Pick 3 to 4 of your favorites and prepare half of them in a fruit salad. Store the remaining whole fruit in a bowl on the counter. 

How will you hack your snacks for healthier eating patterns? 

Positive Approach

Do you know what foods you should be eating? Start with the Healthy Eating Planner to make a plan for eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods.