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  • judy

The "S" Word

Healthy snacks. Is that possible? Often, our snacks are full of sugar and/or salt. They are not good for us. Frequently, they don’t even satisfy us. 

We snack to meet various needs. We could be hungry. Or we might want to boost our energy, or add some zest to a dull afternoon. Sometimes we want a reward, comfort, or consolation. Or to counteract a headache.

So we buy snacks that media ads show happy people enjoying. They look tempting, and are ready to eat. They usually contain too much sugar, salt, and artificial flavors and colors. Most of us know them: muffins, cakes and cookies, ice cream, flavored yogurt, and canned fruit.

Do they fill our needs? I remember going with my officemates for a midmorning snack, like a danish. When I returned to work, I felt more tired than before the break. Many experts explain it as a “sugar rush,” which pours energy into the bloodstream, only to be followed by a “crash.” That describes how I felt.  Excess sugar and salt are associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. The Harvard Health newsletter points out, “the higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease.”

If unhealthy snacking falls short, why not try healthy snacking? What does it take? Mainly, imagination, and a little rebelliousness. If you need a pick-me-up, or to clear your sinuses, a hot pepper addition to pop corn or dry roasted beans might work better for you than candy or a danish. A handful of nuts could soothe your craving for “crunch” better than a sugary granola bar. Top flat bread or an English muffin with a nut or seed butter, or hummus for a filling finger food. Eat asparagus or green beans out of the can.

Choose whatever is within reach, and healthy. Let yourself think outside the box. Anything (healthy) goes. Break the “rules.” Who says you can only have a side dish with a full meal? Put a sweet potato, a plantain, or an ear of fresh corn wrapped in its husks in the microwave for a few minutes (after piercing the skin on top.) Enjoy gravy on a potato or a slice of whole wheat bread. A salad. Cole slaw. Frozen fresh fruit. Commercial food companies may not like it, but your body will. Do the “S” word right!

Although I rarely mention it on this blog, you can find suggestions in my book Snacks for Growing Strong. It has snack ideas even kids can make. Go to

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