Every now and then some advice comes along that silences the noise around dieting and wellbeing. Harvard Medical School has released a report called the Six-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, saying “it distills the latest nutrition science into a clear picture of what healthy eating looks like and turns it into a simple-to-follow, week-by-week plan”.

Part of the plan gives us some simple advice for smart snacking. This is what science says about the best way to stop the cravings and keep that full feeling.

Harvard Medical School recommends:

  1. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks can give you some energy with staying power. Think brown rice cups or rice cakes
  2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with avocado or ricotta cheese?
  3. Try a “high-low” combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks
  4.  Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full. Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small. House Call Doctor has written about the benefits of nuts and seeds.
  5. The combo snack. Try to have more than just one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Or try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrate) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied
  6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else — like cruising the web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal
  7.  Take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthy snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

If you have to snack on the go, remember this:

  •  Sugar can creep in. If something is pre-packaged and comes in the form of a muesli or protein bar, check the ingredients for added sugars or syrups
  •  Fresh is best. Vegetable sticks and cheese give you a carbohydrate and protein kick, fill you up and best of all, they don’t come in packets
  •  Think about the time. How long has it been since lunch? Are you really hungry, or is this boredom? A cup of green tea or lemon water can be a good way reason to get up from your desk, take a break and sip yourself through to dinner time.

House Call Doctor has written about how to train your body to crave healthy snacks and developed a clean eating cheat sheet to help you on your way.