February is National Snack Food month, and while we'd love to endorse a month of cake, cookies and various M&Ms, that's not a good idea for anyone. While it's okay to treat yourself from time to time, if you plan to keep snack foods on hand in your assisted living apartment, you may want to choose from some healthier options.
Snacking has a bad rep, in part because we tend to associate it with sweets or greasy options such as potato chips. But snacking in and of itself can be a healthy habit for many adults. Small snacks between meals can help you maintain energy, better manager your weight and keep you from overeating when meal times do arrive.
Obviously, everyone is different, and chronic health conditions and other factors can impact when and how you should eat. You should always consult your health care provider and/or a nutritionist before you make big changes to your diet. If you're not sure how to start with a healthier diet, let one of The Gardens staff members know. We can help.
If you're doing well with meals and just want to keep a few guilt-free munchies on hand, here are some options you might want to consider.
Popcorn, which is a high-fiber, low calorie snack. You can prepare it quickly in a microwave or an air popper , making it an easy option to keep in your apartment. Popcorn is only as healthy as the way you don't top it, though. If you slather it in butter or drizzle chocolate on top of it, you're adding a lot of calories, fat or sugar. Instead, stick to lightly salting it or eating it plain.
Nuts, which are high in protein and other nutrients. Remember that they're also a high source of fat and calories, though. You don't want to eat directly from the can; instead, measure out an appropriate serving. Opt for fresh or unsalted varieties for the healthiest snack.
Nut butters are a great way to get the nutrients of nuts if you can't handle the hard crunch. You can eat nut butters directly from a spoon or spread them on breads, crackers or tortillas.
Berries, which are a great source of antioxidants without bringing all the sugar of other fruits. Combine them with nuts or nut butters for a wide-ranging snack, or eat a handful to sooth a sweet tooth craving.
Don't forget that you can always find health snack and meal options on our flexible dining menus.