Making the Most of Snacking: How to Curb Hunger On the Road

By Olympian Swimmer Summer Sanders and PHA Dietitian Amaris Bradley for #PHABack2School

Image of a family in a car on the way to a vacation.

Let’s face it: Everyone likes to snack. And in today’s busy world, when we don’t always have time to sit down and enjoy a nutritionally-balanced meal, snacking takes on added importance, as it may provide many of the calories that get us through the day.

But grabbing a bag of chips or cookies – even pretzels – isn’t the best choice for keeping hunger at bay because those snacks often times don’t pack much in the way of nourishing nutrients our bodies yearn for. They may be tasty and filling, but they provide no benefit to your body – they’re just empty calories.

There’s no reason why snacks – just like breakfast, lunch and dinner – can’t also play a key role in helping us meet our daily nutrient needs. Here are some tips for making even the quickest and simplest of snacks nutritionally impactful.

Choose snacks that include protein and fiber.

Low-fat string cheese is easy to tote along when you’re on the run and fun for kids to eat. It’s also a good source of protein. Add some whole-wheat crackers or apple slices for a bit of fiber and you’ll help tide the kids over ‘til dinnertime. Image of a dad and daughter reading a food label in a grocery store.

Read labels.

Low-fat yogurt is a great go-to because it’s an excellent source of protein, B12, potassium and calcium. But be careful! Many yogurt brands contain lots of added sugar, artificial sweeteners or sugary toppings, such as chocolate or sprinkles that load this otherwise healthy snack down with unnecessary calories. Read the label to be sure you’re not getting something you don’t want.

Want a hint of sweet? Add seasonal summer favorites like berries or peaches to plain, low-fat yogurt. Toss in some whole grain cereal or sliced almonds for a bit of crunch.

Tailor snacks to individual tastes.

Image of trail mix containing nuts and dry fruit. Trail mix is an excellent example of a snack that can be customized to suit any taste and avoid any food allergy. It’s an especially satisfying snack to take on the road or pack for your kids when they’re out and about because it can be stored in summer temperatures from the family car’s glove compartment to the beach bag. Toss in raisins, dried cranberries, popcorn, graham cracker sticks, apricots, dried apple chips, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, or a variety of nuts based on whatever the kids like best. The options are endless!

Plan ahead.

It can be tough to eat healthy when you’re on the road for hours, sitting in an airport, or rushing to pick up the kids from school. So whether you’re going on vacation or know you’ll be stuck in traffic somewhere trying to get to sports practice, dedicate two minutes to put together a bundle of snacks to take with you. You’ll know what’s in them, because you made them!