Healthy Snacks for Teens
What's the first thing you do when you get home from school? If you're like
most teens, you raid the refrigerator. But snacking on the wrong foods can add
unwanted calories and make you even hungrier when mealtime rolls around. Eating
snacks low in nutritional value does nothing to make you smarter or stronger,
either. The key is to choose healthy snacks that will fill you up and help
nourish you without adding too many calories.
Snacks and Your Weight
Favorite teen snacks include chips, soft drinks, cookies, candy bars, pizza,
burgers and fries, and ice cream. Yet all of these high-calorie snacks can
cause weight gain. What happens when teens notice that they've put on a few
pounds? Many stop snacking altogether and begin to "fast" for hours at
The problem is, you set yourself up for overeating when you go for five or
six hours without eating. Many nutritionists believe that we should eat smaller
meals every three to four hours (instead of three large meals per day). This
may help your body's blood sugar levels stay stable. Providing a steady supply
of glucose to your brain helps keep you from having mood swings and getting
cranky. It also helps to reduce the chances of binging.
Good News and Bad News about Snacking
Here's the good news: the best way to maintain a normal weight (and be
smarter and stronger) is to stop depriving yourself. Go ahead and eat a healthy
snack between meals, and enjoy it! Snacking between meals ensures that your
body will not run out of fuel. And common sense tells you that it's hard to
make wise choices at dinnertime if your stomach is growling.
The bad news is that if you make poor choices or eat too many calories at
snack time, you'll probably gain weight. If your snack choices are determined
by how you feel at the moment or by the not-so-nutritious selections in the
vending machine, you're likely to overeat and miss out on important
That's why it's good to plan ahead. See the list of Smart Snack Suggestions
(below), or come up with your own healthy favorites. Then, post this list on
your refrigerator door. Make sure you or your parents buy these foods from the
supermarket, so you have a variety to choose from each afternoon.
Betcha Can't Eat Just One!
Even when you choose healthy snacks, it can be hard to limit your snack
portions. That's especially true when you get home from school and are ready to
devour anything that's not moving!
To control portions, measure one serving of your snack the night before and
put this in a zipper plastic sandwich bag. Then your pre-measured, packaged
snack will be ready when you get home.