Power snacking
We live in a super-sized food nation. Twenty years ago, a bagel weighed about two ounces and had less than 200 calories. Today, a typical bagel has doubled in size and calories.

Used the right way, snacking can be an effective way to curb cravings and improve your weight loss efforts.

Regular snacking staves off extreme hunger, maintains energy and actually helps you shed pounds. The key to healthy snacking, though, is knowing when and what to munch. Aim for one to two 150- to 200-calorie snacks daily. Make sure to space meals and snacks about three to four hours apart. A well-rounded healthy snack includes protein, carbohydrates and some fat. This mix keeps you satisfied longer than pure carbohydrate snacks and also helps to balance blood sugar levels. Here are some perfectly balanced snacks, all under 200 calories:
  • Maple-Nut Yogurt: Stir 1 teaspoon maple syrup and 1 tablespoon walnut pieces into 6 ounces (or 3/4 cup) low-fat plain yogurt.
  • 3/4 cup high-fiber cereal of your choice with 1 cup nonfat milk
  • Mix 3 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt with freshly chopped parsley. Dip 8 baby carrots in yogurt and eat with 5 woven wheat crackers.
  • 3/4 cup vanilla soymilk with half an apple spread with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • Blend 1 cup nonfat milk with 1/2 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries and 1/2 cup blackberries into a smoothie.
  • 1 cup skim latte and 1 unfrosted or undipped biscotti
  • 1 string mozzarella cheese stick and 1 whole orange
  • Raspberry ricotta: Combine 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup raspberries and 2 teaspoons raspberry jam.

Dayna Winter is a registered dietitian and food and nutrition writer in New York City.