Eating between meals can actually be good for you — as long as you select your mini-meals wisely.
Step 1: Count calories Watch the numbers: A snack shouldn't have more than 200 calories.
Step 2: Follow the 35-10-35 rule Choose an item that gets no more than 35 percent of its calories from fat, no more than 10 percent of its calories from saturated fat, and is no more than 35 percent sugar by weight. Fruits, cheese, nuts, and seeds are exempt.
Tip Beware of snacks marked "fat-free." They're often loaded with sugar or sodium.
Step 3: Include protein Make sure the snack includes protein, which keeps you feeling full longer than carbohydrates alone.
Step 4: Make it high fiber Choose cereal and protein bars that are high in fiber – at least 3 grams per serving. Fiber helps the body digest food and metabolize fat.
Step 5: Watch the sodium Take it easy on the salt, an excess of which can lead to high blood pressure. Stick to snacks that provide less than 450 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Step 6: Choose protein bars carefully Avoid protein bars that have more than 15 grams of sugar or 5 grams of fat – they're not much better than candy bars.
Step 7: Watch your diet Factor in the calorie counts of your snacks once you sit down to a regular meal. Even the healthiest snacks can add pounds if you don't compensate for them elsewhere!
Did You Know? In one survey, women listed chips as their number one workplace snack food, followed by chocolate and candy bars.