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What makes a healthy snack? Well, in short: it’s complicated. 

Despite what product manufacturers would have you believe, some snacks are simply too high in Calories to make weight maintenance an easy undertaking. Even if a snack is “minimally processed”, high-fiber, low in fat, or lacking any demonized ingredient (corn syrup, gluten, etc), the Calorie content of many prepared snacks puts them over the top, and prone to Caloric overconsumption.

Snack bars, snack mixes, fruit and nut mixes, and “better for you” snacks have been rolled out en masse in recent years. “Minimally processed” snack picks (such as all-natural fruit and nut mixes and bars) have been especially tempting for those who want easy, tasty, seemingly healthy snacks to replace the more vilified chips, crackers, and convenience snacks of yesteryear.

Unfortunately, most products marketed as snacks to health-conscious consumers simply don’t fit with the patterns of a typical American diet. Most Americans consume more calories than they need in a single day (hence, the obesity epidemic).


Weight maintenance and healthy living ultimately come down to consuming the right number of Calories and spacing them appropriately throughout the day to avoid overconsumption later on (when hunger takes the reigns and you plow through the refrigerator).

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who feel sluggish all the time and struggles to maintain an appropriate weight, snacking provides a conundrum: eat, and take in more Calories? Or live out the afternoon in a state of hanger? 


Weight-happy snacking requires that you either track your Calories and distribute them thoughtfully throughout the day to provide room for Calorie-appropriate snacking OR eat filling snacks so low in Calories (*cough* vegetables) that their consumption matters little in the grand scheme of total Caloric consumption for the day. For most weight-conscious eaters, the latter strategy is often best, as it requires that you become more in tune with your hunger signals: if you’re not hungry enough for plain crudites, you’re not really hungry.

Even if you go with the first snack scheme (Caloric distribution), your snack shouldn’t eclipse 200 Calories: the average American woman needs no more than 1400-2000 Calories to maintain weight, and most of your calories should be consumed at mealtime - NOT between.


Still not sure what constitutes a healthy snack? Use our Lazy Chef matrix below to pick the snack that works best for your Caloric needs.



100-150 CALORIES




1 cup cut broccoli, 1 cup cut cauliflower


1 apple, 2 oz deli turkey


2 oz deli turkey, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 cutie orange


1 cup bell pepper strips, 1 cup sliced cucumber


½ cup nonfat greek yogurt, ½ cup strawberries


1 hard boiled egg, 1 apple


2 cups mixed veggies, raw, served with salsa


1 cutie orange, 1 string cheese stick


1 banana, 1 string cheese stick


2 cups steamed mixed veggies, seasoned with Mrs. Dash


½ cup nonfat cottage cheese, 1 pear


2 oz deli turkey, 2 tbsp hummus, 1 cutie orange


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