They're not just for school kids. Snacks are an important part of a good eating plan, for several reasons:

They help keep your blood sugar and energy steady by making sure you eat every three or four hours. Going too long without eating can cause your blood sugar to drop, making you hungry and probably a little cranky.

They take the edge off late afternoon hunger so that dinner is not a free-for-all. Have you ever tried to figure out what's for dinner when you're hungry? It's a sucker's bet at best. Make it easier with a snack so you can think clearly.

Snacks help make sure you're getting all of the nutrients that you should. You probably can't do that with just three meals a day. Notice I said "nutrients." Snacks are daily, healthful choices. Much different that "treats" or "desserts" which should be only once in a while (otherwise they're not treats).

Snacks should be about 200 calories or less. The better the ingredients, the better you'll feel after you eat them. Strive for a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates and a little (healthy) fat.

Snack Ideas

Any of these with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter:

Apple or pear

Celery sticks

Whole grain crackers

One piece of whole wheat bread

A quarter cup cup dried fruit and a quarter cup nuts

Medium nonfat latte (feel free to add a dash of cocoa powder if you like)

A quarter cup cup hummus with raw vegetables

One cup fresh fruit with ½ cup lowfat cottage cheese

Eight ounces nonfat yogurt with 1/8 cup walnuts

A half cup high fiber cereal with half cup nonfat milk

Eighty calories of dark chocolate and a small peach

Whole grain crackers with 1 stick of low-fat string cheese

A half cup nonfat frozen yogurt, plain (this means no added candy, fudge swirls, etc.)

Three-quaters of a cup shelled edamame

Two slices low-salt turkey and a small bunch of grapes

One hard-boiled egg drizzled with 1 measuring teaspoon of good olive oil and freshly grated black pepper

One serving (about 20 chips) of kettle baked potato chips

As you would with your meals, plan for your snacks. This can be as simple as stashing fruit and nut bars in your car &and purse. Bring some apples and bananas to keep on your desk at work. If you're doing a strenuous work-out, be sure to have a snack on-hand to begin the refueling process. Get in the habit and soon your eating will enjoy a healthy boost.

Speaking of enjoying, if you grew up during the 70's get some additional motivation as well as a trip down Memory Lane by watching this Time For Timer PSA that encouraged kids to eat healthy snacks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3jgo5ea_zc .

Lisa Corrado makes busy people healthier by combining clinical nutrition with culinary training. Contact Corrado at 203-972-3447 or Lisa@LisaCorradoNutrition.com. Visit her website at www.LisaCorradoNutrition.com .

More Information

Fact box