Sugary sweets, such as chocolate, hard candy and gum dominate the snacking world, a Nielsen report found. Guess what are people's favorite snacks? The report found that the favorite snacks of North America are chips, chocolate and cheese. "Fresh fruit landed fifth in popularity, with 55 percent of survey respondents reporting they ate fresh fruit for a snack at least once in the previous 30 days." Why do people love to snack? There are psychological reasons and hormonal reasons that drive people to snack in an unhealthy way. Boredom also influences our snacking habits along with the commercials that we watch. These forces can really shift the balance in our eating habits as they can be beneficial or damaging. Snacking received a bad reputation because it's often associated with people stuffing themselves silly with chips in front of the television. We definitely don't envision people snacking on healthy things like veggies! However, you need snacking during the day to keep the body going. Balanced snacking is easier than you think, believe it or not. Here are 6 things to consider.

Eat an apple a day.

We need to know that fiber is our friend if we are going to stop unhealthy snacking. Eating fruit with a high fiber content will reduce the risk of grabbing a snack that is loaded with sugar and fat. Apples can also help lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar and are a heart healthy food.
Try slices of apple with a little peanut butter for a treat between meals. Foods like avocados, raspberries, brown rice and bran flakes are other foods that are high in fiber.

Grab a simple bowl of oatmeal.

"Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers form a viscous gel that helps to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels," Everyday Health reported. Oatmeal is great in a pinch and you can add agave syrup to sweeten it. Try adding dried fruit, bananas or nuts for a really balanced snack. You can buy oatmeal that is organic in small packets to take with you on the go.

Plan in advance.

Just like we plan our meals, when we take the time to prep our snacks, it will keep us from overeating or eating foods that are empty calories. Make a list of healthy snacks essentials. Fitnessmagainine.com suggested we start with fruits and veggies, dark chocolate, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods as the staples. Once you get a baseline of the foods that you need, then you can plan. For example, combine mix nuts and dry fruits and add it to your yogurt. Raisins, dates, papayas and dried apples can be used with granola for a healthy snack during the day. Set these aside in bags to use during the week and pop them into your bag for work or when you are on the road.

See your success.

Get rid of foods that tempt you from snacking healthy. If we don't have the temptation, we won't run to a gallon of ice cream when we are emotional or need comfort.
Food brings comfort to our negative emotions and releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone. To combat this, see yourself overcoming the temptation to gorge on junk food when the moment comes. Once you start mastering this, it will get easier. This tactic may help you in other areas that you may be struggling in.

Get enough protein.

"It’s best to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day instead of a very large serving only once or twice. This gives your body the right amount of protein it needs at any given time since only so much can be utilized at once," Dr. Josh Axe shared. For a high-protein snack, prepare chickpeas on a cookie sheet. Spritz or drizzle a little olive oil on top, sea salt, pepper and chili powder and roast legumes at a high heat in a 425-degree oven until crispy. If chickpeas don't motivate you. Try a hard-boiled egg, cottage cheese with a little honey or Greek yogurt.

Know your environment.

Creating a balance in snacking at home is one thing, but it is another when you are on the go or in a group setting. For example, if you are having cocktails (low-calorie drinks) before a show, be mindful of what food is available to you. Ask for a cheese and fruit plate or if there are healthier options, not on the menu. There is another rule when you are on the go. Experts believe that you should "Keep each snack to 125 calories or less. As you’ll see, we’re not banning chocolate or potato chips. But you’ll find that the healthier the food, the more you can eat. For example, an entire cucumber is a mere 45 calories," Reader's Digest shared.

If balanced snacking is too overwhelming, talk with a health professional. They can devise a plan to fit your needs and your lifestyle. Balanced snacking helps you control your weight, appetite, mood and can give you energy if done correctly. "Nutrition really is the key to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy life. It goes a long way toward lowering the risk for heart disease and improving overall health," Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, explained to Everyday Health. With this, we need to take into consideration our snacking habits. This doesn't mean we can't cheat, but it means striking a balance and it is not hard to do. This can be opting for an apple instead of a cookie or exercising more willpower. By making an effort, you can reach this milestone in your eating habits that can last a lifetime.

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