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Healthy Snacks for Teens

Betcha Can't Eat Just One! continued...

For example, you could put 1 cup of your favorite whole- grain cereal in the plastic bag and leave it out on the kitchen counter. When you get home, pour the cereal into a bowl and top it with fruit and low-fat milk. Or put five whole-grain crackers in your sandwich bag. The next afternoon, grab a string cheese out of the fridge and enjoy your snack.

You can also take your snack bag to school with you, if you're staying late for sports or clubs. It's better to know what you're eating (trail mix, cheese and crackers, or almonds and dried cranberries) and than to impulse-snack from the vending machine or fast food restaurants.

What Foods Are Best?

The best snacks include complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, and low-fat protein:

  • Complex carbohydrates. Good choices include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes, hummus, and edamame ( steamed Japanese soybeans).
  • Low-fat dairy products. Good choices include low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese.
  • Low-fat protein. Good choices include lean chicken, turkey or fish

What Foods Do I Watch Out For?

Avoid refined carbohydrates, foods that are high in sugar and white flour. Limit white potatoes (or chips), sweets, candy, sugary drinks, and pastries. These foods can cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly, which may trigger a hunger attack when it falls again.

Also stay away from expensive "power bars." If you look at the label, you'll see most protein bars, energy bars, and sports bars are just candy bars in disguise (they've added a few vitamins). Most power bars are high in calories, too.

Smart Snack Suggestions

The following snacks will help fill you up and keep you going until your next meal. Many can be pre-packaged the night before:

  • Apple slices spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins.
  • Banana sliced in half and spread lightly with peanut butter.
  • Bean burger on a whole-grain bun with lettuce and tomato.
  • Bean burrito.
  • Black bean dip with whole-grain crackers.
  • Cheese toast (whole grain bread with low-fat cheese).
  • Cut-up vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing.
  • Edamame (steamed Japanese soybeans).
  • Hummus on a whole-wheat pita.
  • Low-fat yogurt with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.
  • Oatmeal made with low-fat milk with strawberries.
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-grain bread. (Use half a banana and spread the peanut butter lightly.)
  • Popcorn without butter (sprinkle with Parmesan cheese).
  • Red grapes and string cheese.
  • Rice cakes spread lightly peanut butter (spread lightly).
  • Serving of almonds and dried cranberries or blueberries.
  • Slice of cheese or veggie pizza.
  • Small bagel with low-fat cream cheese.
  • Soy nuts and string cheese.
  • Soymilk smoothie.
  • String cheese and whole-grain crackers.
  • Trail mix (measure one serving).
  • Tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Turkey and low-fat cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato.
  • Vegetable soup with whole-grain crackers.
  • Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.
  • Whole-grain English muffin spread lightly with peanut butter.
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