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Expert offers healthy alternatives for snacking

Carrots and Celery. Stock photo

When looking for a quick snack, a majority of people will reach for the bag of chips and can of pop.

Though they know it's not the healthiest of options, it's oftentimes one of easiest options. Unhealthy foods are always in the vending machine and typically thought of as something you can take on the go.

But eating healthier snacks doesn't have to be that difficult, Grand Forks Public Health Dietitian Mandy Burbank said. Thinking ahead, she said, can help people eat better.

"I think planning is key," Burbank said. "With some planning, you can think of smart snacks that can be enjoyable, easy and healthy."

Burbank said someone looking to snack healthier should think about what they have to do in their upcoming day or week. For instance, she said she looks at her family's schedule and plans meals and snacks accordingly. Then, she goes to the grocery store and gets what she needs for the upcoming week.

When people don't plan like this, she said they're more likely to reach for the junk food when they need a snack.

"If you plan for it, that allows people to be a little bit more mindful about what they're choosing," she said.

To snack smart, she suggested the items should be fresh, easy and convenient. The three main food groups most people should eat are proteins, fruits and vegetables.

For protein, Burbank recommends foods such as nuts, seeds, string cheese, whole grain crackers, hummus and Greek yogurt. Healthy fruits and vegetables include apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and low-fat dips to go with them.

Any of these, Burbank said, can be convenient if they're planned for and ready to go when hunger strikes.

"There's no reason you have to go right to the processed foods for that," she said.

And don't forget to keep portions in mind, Burbank said. While it might not be harmful to eat too many vegetables, eating a lot of granola bars — which can be healthy — could lead to too many calories.

Oftentimes, she said, people go all afternoon without eating, then go home and overindulge with unhealthy snacks. That leads them to not have a substantial dinner because they aren't hungry for it.

"If you snack smart, and you're planning those snacks out, you're going to be a lot less likely to overeat at the next meal," she said.

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

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