"Rather than the traditional norm of eating three larger meals per day, it turns out that grazing—or frequent snacking—may not deserve the bad reputation this pattern of eating often gets," says registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, host of Well+Good's series You Versus Food. "Grazing can give one a greater opportunity to consume a wider variety of essential vitamins and minerals, and it allows you to paint your diet with more benefits from high quality nutrients that may otherwise go unnoticed." In fact, a small batch of research shows that nibbling on various ingredients throughout the day may even lessen the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, meaning you'll feel fuller and more satiated as the day progresses.
Clinical dietitian Stephanie Grasso, RD, says that she's especially a fan of grazing for people whose jobs, kids, and lifestyles keep their Google Calendar booked 24/7. "I think grazing is a great way to keep you energized throughout the day, especially for those who are always 'on the go' or have busy work schedules," she says. So if you're a parent trying to work while homeschooling your child or are spending long shifts as a front-line worker, you may find this style of eating especially useful for fueling yourself on days when you can't find a spare moment to scarf down a sandwich.
Both dietitians agree on the the snack rule of three for grazing. "Sticking to my rule of combining carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your nibbling will help to stabilize blood sugar levels, ensure fullness, and increase satiety," says Beckerman. She also recommends choosing whole foods over processed foods whenever you have the opportunity. "These types of foods [typically] contain more fiber and water than processed or packaged foods, meaning that you will stay full and more hydrated throughout the day," she adds.
Below, Beckerman and Grasso offer a day's worth of grazing for those who prefer eat here and there rather than sit down for a full meal. Let's get nibbling.
5 healthy snacks for grazers that make for delicious munching all day long
1. full-fat skyr yogurt with frozen berries, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
Beckerman's first snack pick is a mini-parfait composed of skyr or Icelandic yogurt (the carbohydrates and protein of the snack), as well as a sprinkle of pumpkin and sunflower seeds—which will pump up the protein and provide those healthy fats. If you're feeling a little bit extra, you could even buy cute glass jars for your petit snacks and divvy the smooth and crunchy concoction into five portions for Monday through Friday.
2. String cheese and crackers
Grasso affirms my entire existence by telling me that, yes, cheese and crackers are a healthy snack. For an option that meets all three of Beckerman's requirements, go ahead and choose a seed-rich cracker that packs carbs and fiber. Put a serving of the crackers in a little Tupperware container ahead of time, then cut up the string cheese so it resembles only the finest of sharp cheddars. When you're ready for your on-the-go cheese board, just put the cheese and crackers together, and munch. Adding apple slivers or a grape to each bite will bring in more carbs—and an even more (wiggles eyebrows) refined flavor experience. Or go the extra mile and transform the cheese and crackers into a grown-up Lunchable for easy, healthy snacking.
3. Whole grain toast with soft boiled egg and avocado topped with sesame seeds
Oh, snap: Yes, you grazers can eat avocado toast, too! This easy kids' meal comes together in minutes, but you can whip it up ahead of time for toast on-the-go that packs all the nutrients you need to stay full. To prepare, soft boil a few eggs (which takes just a few minutes, promise!), then store in a sealed glass container in the fridge when ready to use. Then when you're ready for a nibble, just toast your bread, slice some avocado (or spread the toast with pre-made guacamole), cut your egg in half, and assemble. Top with sesame seeds, and chow down.
4. Nut butter and fruit
No shame in going more low-fi for your grazing needs. Combining a serving of fruit (like apples or bananas) with your favorite nut butter will easily hit Beckerman's protein-fat-carb recommendations. And it's easy to prepare on the fly when you literally have zero time, thanks in part to single-serving nut butter pouches from Justin's, RX, Noosh, and more.
5. Chia seed pudding with pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of honey
Chia seeds are a protein, fat, and fiber powerhouse, and once you pour milk over them and toss them in the fridge for at least four hours, they magically turn into pudding. The pomegranate seeds and honey will bring in the carbohydrates and a little sweetness that will make this session of snacking feel like a midday dessert. Prep in advance, then store in the fridge in a sealed container and serve yourself in small bowls or mason jars when you're hungry. Top with pomegranate seeds and honey and you're good to go.
Learn how to make chia seed pudding:
Once you've prepped these healthy options for the week, you've got five small bites you can mix and match for any given day of grazing. Maybe cows have the right idea, after all.
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