A Simple Guide to Packing Healthy Snacks

Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles | May 3, 2016

Everyone has different opinions and concerns when it comes to choosing what to snack on in between meals. In addition, frequency, type, and quantity vary depending on individual dietary needs.

Is grazing on snacks throughout the day better than eating three square meals?
Should snacks be limited to 100 calories?
Should I be snacking at all?

Snacks can be a huge blow to any healthy diet – mainly because most of them are high in sugar and calories, despite all the health claims on the packaging. However, if you know how to snack healthy, you can successfully achieve your health goals!

In the midst of incredibly busy schedules, snacking provides a valuable opportunity to squeeze in many essential nutrients that keep you satisfied and energized throughout the day. Plan appropriately and pack your own snacks. That way, you won’t be forced to purchase unhealthy processed foods from vending machines, fast food restaurants, or cafeterias. If you make a habit of preparing healthy snacks, weight management will be a breeze.

Build a Healthy Snack Using this Simple Formula:

Complex Carbohydrate + Lean Protein = Healthy Snack!

Complex Carbohydrates are excellent sources of high quality energy. They’re found in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains. Examples include apples, bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, oats, whole grain breads, brown rice, granola, legumes, and beans.

Protein provides your body with amino acids to help rebuild muscle mass. It also helps satiate appetite to prevent overeating. You can get your protein from lean meats, poultry, and eggs. Nuts, seeds, and dairy foods, such as cheese and Greek yogurt, are also great sources of protein!

There are many delicious combinations you can try when using that simple formula:

  • ¼ cup of almonds or mixed nuts and an apple
  • String cheese and grapes
  • Greek yogurt with berries and ¼ cup of granola
  • Low fat cheese and whole grain crackers
  • 1 cup of low fat milk and whole grain cereal
  • Peanut butter and celery with raisins
  • Nut butter and honey sandwich on whole grain bread
  • 2 hardboiled eggs and a pear
  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal cooked with a touch of unsweetened almond milk, cinnamon, and ½ scoop of protein powder
  • Turkey jerky and carrots

Get creative and put together a winning combination that best fits your tastes and your lifestyle! Healthy snacks are more nutritious than anything you’ll find in a vending machine and they’re super easy to prepare. Just throw them in your car, backpack, or bag, and you’re good to go!


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Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles

Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.

Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.

She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.

Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!

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