We've all been there — the hunger pangs, the short temper, the grumbling stomach, the mood swings. Yup, it's hanger (that's hunger + anger). But if you're trying to hold out until your next meal, stop! Snacking is actually great for you! A recent study found that people who snack tend to get more nutrients from their diets, including key ones like calcium and protein. Obviously, that doesn't mean you can chow down on chips every day. But keeping these healthy snacks on hand will keep you feeling full (and happy) all day.
You know what they say: An apple a day keeps the hanger away! (That's right, right?) Apples come packed with filling fiber — about one-fifth of what you need in a day — which makes them perfect for keeping you satisfied between meals. Fiber literally keeps your stomach full for longer after your meal, and it keeps your blood sugar stable, which means it helps you avoid the hunger pangs and grouchy feelings linked to blood sugar crashes. Whole or cut up apples are best. If you're reaching for a processed apple food, like applesauce, you'll miss out on half the fiber.
When it comes to nuts, almonds tend to hog the spotlight. But if you're sick of plain almonds, mix it up! Mixed nuts actually offer tons of nutrients that nourish your body and keep hunger at bay. They're high in the fiber and protein you need to feel satisfied between meals, and since you're eating a variety of nuts, you're getting a well-rounded array of minerals as well. Minerals keep your muscles energized and they also support healthy blood flow (which is important for fighting fatigue!). Don't stress over the sodium in salted nuts. You get lots of "salty" taste since the salt is on the surface of the nuts, where even a little sodium can impart big flavor. An ounce has less than 10% of your daily salt limit, so snack away!
The granola bars you enjoyed in grade school probably resemble candy more than health food, and they're not so great for keeping you full, either. But grown-up versions — loaded with whole grains, nuts, dried fruit and healthier sweeteners — work perfectly to keep you hunger-free between meals. Our homemade version uses filling and delicious mix-ins including almond butter — a great source of protein — and shredded coconut, which is packed with iron.
Whole Wheat Pretzels
Bet you thought you'd never see vending machine fare on this list! But pretzels actually offer lots of filling and energy-boosting benefits. They're high in iron and folate, which helps carry oxygen to your tissues (including your brain) to power you through that 3 P.M. slump. And whole-wheat versions also offer lots of fiber for satiety. Serve 'em with a healthy dip, like homemade hummus, for a protein-rich snack.
Pre-Made Frozen Smoothies
Fiber-packed fruit? Check. Detoxifying leafy greens? Check. Satisfying protein? Check. If you're trying to nix hanger and boost your energy, smoothies are a triple threat. And while it's not exactly convenient to schlep your blender around with you 24/7, you can easily make several smoothies on the weekend for easy snacking on the go throughout. Simply pour the smoothies into mason jars or other airtight containers and freeze overnight (leave at least an inch of space at the top to account for expansion).Try one of these scrumptious smoothies — they're filling enough to work as a healthy meal replacement or large snack.
Greek yogurt has gone from niche product to staple, and it's easy to see why. Loaded with more than twice the protein of regular yogurt, it's way more filling than the yogurt cups you ate as a kid. And, bonus, you'll also get calcium, phosphorus and magnesium for healthy bones and muscles. Here's how to make your own! The most filling varieties of Greek yogurt combine yogurt with whole grains, like steel-cut oats or granola, which supply the fiber that's missing in the yogurt itself. Shop for a grain-infused variety, or make your own hybrid by mixing our healthy granola into your yogurt cup.
Let's face it — sometimes you're hangry but you don't really have time to eat. Enter almond butter, the fiber-rich, protein-packed snack you can eat in about 10 seconds. Stock your pantry with single-serving almond butter packets, or keep a jar of almond butter on hand and dig in with a spoon (a little undignified, maybe, but who's judging?!). Try making your own almond butter and adding your own flavors. Blend a tablespoon of maple sugar into your almond butter, or add vanilla bean powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for added flavor.