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Last Updated on February 25, 2021

15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet

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15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet

Are you trying to keep your weight in check? This is a worthy goal, but it can be difficult to stick to your diet when you get hungry between meals. Staying on course is easy if you keep your snacks between meals to healthy, low-calorie options. The added advantage of eating regular quick and healthy snacks is that it keeps your energy up and will help you stay focused during the day.

Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring either. Quick and healthy snacks can be flavorful and delicious without causing you to pack on the pounds. Here are 15 quick and healthy snacks for when you get the munchies, which is often inevitable as you’re dieting.

As you change the amount of calories you’re putting into your body, hunger is natural. Often, a small snack is all it takes to curb this side effect of dieting.

1. Vegetable Sticks

I know you are going to tell me carrot and celery sticks are boring, but if you add peanut butter or hummus, it becomes a well-rounded snack with a dose of vitamins, protein and fiber. This is also a great option for when you’re on the go as you can cut up some vegetables and stow them in a small container for a few hours without them going bad.

If you know you generally get hunger pangs at a certain point in your work day, having this quick and healthy snack nearby will help you tackle hunger and stop you reaching for those donuts your coworker brought in for everyone today.

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2. Olives

10 olives only contain about 60 calories, so next time you are having a party, rather than eat fatty, unhealthy potato chips, reach for the olives. They can also be enjoyed with drinks other than Martinis.

Olives are high in Vitamin E, a type of antioxidant that can protect cells from free radicals, keeping you healthier longer, as well as healthy fats. They are also good for the heart and may protect against osteoporosis and cancer.

3. Fruit

A lot of low carbohydrate diets advise against fruit. For me, if a diet doesn’t allow you fruit, then it’s a bad diet.

The traditional diet fruits like grapefruit, melon, berries, and apricots are lowest in sugars and best to eat when dieting[1]. However, other fruits like apples, pears, and citrus fruits contain helpful vitamins that will keep you healthy, but it’s best to consume small servings of these to avoid sugar spikes during your day. This can lead to craving other types of sugars, which can derail a diet if it continues.

4. Dried Fruit and Nuts

Dried fruit and nuts should be snacked on in very small quantities. Dried fruit is very high in sugar, and nuts are high in fats, so as a snack you should limit your intake to about a tablespoon. The good thing about nuts is if you can discipline yourself to eat very few, they keep the hunger at bay and offer a protein boost to help suppress your appetite.

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5. Strawberries and Low-Fat, Natural Yogurt

Low-fat yogurt is a great option for protein and calcium. If it’s natural, it will be low in sugars, so you’ll avoid throwing your insulin out of whack in the middle of the day. Low-fat yogurt obviously doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but adding a few strawberries can add a little sweetness and flavor, as well as a good dose of vitamins.

6. Cherry Tomatoes

This is a quick and healthy snack to have nearby if you’re one of those people who likes to munch while cooking. If you feel hungry while preparing your next meal, have a tray of cherry tomatoes beside you. This will keep you from dipping into the dinner and spoiling your appetite (and your diet) before dinner has even started.

Research has also shown that tomatoes anti-carcinogenic properties, as well as a good dose of Vitamin C to boost your immune system. Furthermore, 100 grams of these little beauties only contain 20-30 calories![2]

7. Rice Cakes

Yet again, I hear that exasperated sigh. The person who invented rice cakes surely had no taste buds. They are just dry, chewy crackers, BUT they somehow transform into something delicious when you spread some low-fat cheese or almond butter onto them.

Better still, add a layer of hummus and cucumber or cheese spread and tomato. For dessert, try chocolate rice cakes, or rice cakes with low-fat yogurt, and you’ll find that things are looking up.

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8. A Hard Boiled Egg

If you are really hungry, an egg can be a great option. Eggs are full of protein, which can help lower your hunger levels until your next meal. One hard-boiled egg only contains about 80 calories, but it packs in 6 grams of protein![3]

Eggs also contain choline, which is important for cellular maintenance and growth, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help support eye health.

9. Cottage Cheese

This is another traditional favorite among dieters. Cottage cheese is very tasty with vegetable sticks, on rice cakes, or with any type of whole grain cracker, so take your pick. You can even mix a small amount of fruit into a small bowl of cottage cheese if you’re craving something sweet.

10. Vegetable Soup

Make a pot of vegetable soup at the beginning of the week and separate it into freezable portions. Add low-calorie vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions, and you have a quick and healthy snack that will last you days.

This is a delicious snack option for the winter, especially, as it’ll help warm you up from the inside out.

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11. Miso Soup

Another soup option is miso soup, which is very low in fat as it is essentially a stock and simple vegetables. It is also very quick and easy to make and can be stored for several days.

12. Salad and Feta Cheese

Make a small salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and green onions. Crumble some feta cheese on top for a delicious pre-dinner snack. Just be careful to not douse it in a fattening salad dressing or one with added sugar—sorry, but that means no Ranch!

13. Ryvita and Marmite

You really have to love Marmite for this one. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great source of B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, as well as a healthy dose of iron[4]. Put it on some whole wheat toast, add a layer of low-fat cream cheese and some cucumber, and you can relax and binge watch Netflix guilt-free.

14. Fruit Ice Popsicles

Press some summer fruits and put them into popsicle moulds. Mix with a little water to make the most refreshing and delicious treat, and one that won’t spoil your diet either.

15. Water With Citrus

Often, we think we are hungry when we are, in fact, just thirsty or a little dehydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day and add a large squeeze of your favorite citrus; it adds a nice bite and keeps you hydrated, alert, and full of energy.

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Final Thoughts

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s essential to plan quick and healthy snack ideas into your day. Choose any of the above, and mix and match to keep your diet interesting each day. Diets don’t have to be boring or bland; you just need a bit of creativity to help you reach your goals.

More Healthy Snack Ideas

    Featured photo credit: Ola Mishchenko via unsplash.com

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

    10 Green Tea Benefits and the Best Way to Drink It 7 Wise Ways to Find Focus and Get Things Done 15 Quick and Healthy Snacks to Help You Stick to Your Diet How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus This Is Why Taking Action Creates Success

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    Published on August 24, 2021

    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

    I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

    Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

    A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Lean protein
    • Nuts
    • Water

    This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

    Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

    What Is a Whole Food Diet?

    By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

    In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

    Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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    Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

    Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

    For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

    • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
    • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
    • Berries five times a week
    • Five or more servings of nuts a week
    • Olive oil five times a week
    • Whole grains five times a week
    • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
    • Legumes and pulses five times a week
    • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
    • Vitamin D supplement
    • Minimally processed foods
    • No more than one glass of wine a day
    • One or two coffee or tea a day max
    • Two liters of water a day

    That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

    Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

    And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

    Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

    Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

    For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

    So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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    As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

    Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

    In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

    A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

    In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

    Whole Foods and the Gut

    Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

    They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

    Whole Foods and the Brain

    The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

    In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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    Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

    • Oily fish
    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Berries
    • Broccoli
    • Whole grains

    Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

    Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

    It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

    Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

    This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

    Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

    Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

    Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

    Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

    Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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    1. Practice Batch Cooking

    Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

    For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

    I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

    2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

    Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

    Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

    If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

    Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

    If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

    Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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