Some call ‘em snacks, others recommend six smaller portioned meals throughout the day. Regardless, the hours in between mealtimes — from breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner, and quite frankly, dinner to breakfast — can be some of the trickiest times to make nutritious decisions. Those hungry moments we don't plan for, the ones in which we end up munching on whatever happens to be at arm’s length, are a source of great confusion for many otherwise mindful eaters.
We consulted some top nutritionists to see how the pros snack on a day-to-day basis. Unsurprisingly, fruit is a recurring theme (nearly all of the experts we talked to mentioned some kind, even if it isn't included below), but there are plenty of other goodies to add to your next grocery list.
SHARON RICHTER, RD — Based in NYC
I want to get enough protein, but I am lactose sensitive, so a quick yogurt doesn't work for me. Thus I'm a nut butter addict. The squeeze packs help control the portion and give me energy and protein that tastes AMAZING!
I LOVE CHOCOLATE! The mint flavor is cool, refreshing, and satisfying, without any guilt (thanks again to portion controlled packaging)!
Pistachios are great because, when they [come with shells], they take some time to eat, which prevents me from downing a handful. They contain antioxidants and vitamin E, [plus] good fat and protein.
Digestion is key. We want to eat healthily and make sure our stomachs are as well. Probiotics help, and the flavors are terrific.
LAUREN MINCHEN, MPH, RDN, CDN — Based in NYC
I'm gluten free and love these things. Brown rice and sesame seeds are a delicious, filling combo!
I love these because they're mostly veggies, and they're cold pressed, which means that the vitamins and minerals naturally present in the juice are preserved.
When I want something salty and crunchy, I opt for this. It's light, filling, and delicious — not to mention the points it gets for fiber content!
A good go-to is low-sugar fruit: I love raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, and apples. Berries are some of the most antioxidant-rich foods available, watermelon is high in vitamin C, and apples are good sources of fiber and polyphenols (compounds that fight disease and boost the immune system).
JULIE UPTON, MS, RD — Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializes in weight management and sports nutrition
More Fresh Fruit!
I always have fresh fruit available, and I try to eat what's in season. My fall-back is bananas. I often eat a 1/2 or a whole banana with peanut or almond butter.
Greek Yogurt with Oats
I often don't have time to make anything special, so I have about 3/4 cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup of quick-cooking oats and either sliced banana or raisins. I have this about 3-4 times a week.
LAUREN THOMAS, MS, RD, CSSD, CDN — Based in NYC, specializes in weight management, sports nutrition, and eating disorders
I always keep spare Larabars in my desk at work to munch on between seeing patients. They put other granola/energy bars to shame for their minimal processing and simple, straightforward ingredients — while still providing enough protein and fiber to keep me full. My favorite is the cappuccino flavor (made of dates, almonds, cashews, coffee, and vanilla). Delicious, filling, and easy!
Especially the "Just a Handful" packets from Trader Joe's — I like the "Go Raw Trek Mix." These TJ's-portioned snack packs are the best! Trail mix provides a great combo of flavor, healthy fat, and protein, but can be very easy to overeat. These packs are pre-portioned to an appropriate serving size and are just enough to satisfy a craving.
Especially the portable, single serving Sabra hummus packs because they are so easily portable. Tribe makes grab-n-go packs with pita chips. I like pairing that with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or chopped up peppers to add an easy vegetable serving.
SALLY KRAVICH, MS Holistic Nutrition — Based in NYC and LA, specializes in Fertility Nutrition
My top choice (for the past 25 years!) is a veggie juice. I used to make them myself... but the world finally caught up and now there are so many places to get them! Juices give me energy, are easy to digest, and deliver nourishment quickly. They also give you radiant skin!
I make my own with red quinoa, but if I’m in a hurry I pick up a ready made container from my local health store, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods.
Nuts and Bars
Though, I’d rather have an apple with possibly a handful of raw nuts & seeds, if you’re on the go, I suggest having custom bars made from YouBar.
PAM BONNEY, MS, RD, CDN — Based in NYC, NJ, and Long Island, specializes in weight loss and chronic disease
Fruits, Veggies, Seeds, and Nuts
Every day I bring 2 fruits with me: usually a banana and either an apple, orange, pear, cherries or whatever portable fruit I have on hand at home (sometimes a small avocado if I have too many ripening at once!). I may also bring a handful of unsalted almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. My second choice is baby carrots, green beans, or Persian cucumbers: all very portable. I love to eat these veggies with a small individual hummus. If I buy a snack during the day, I love these hummus and pretzel combo snacks!
Hydrate with Water and Tea
I also drink water or hot green tea (Tazo Zen from Starbucks is my current fave) with my snack.
CAROL WASSERMAN, CHHP, AADP — Based in NYC, specializes in weight loss
Hummus or Guacamole With Carrots
Either dip is tasty and healthy, and carrots add a high-level crunch factor.
Almond butter on a Lundberg organic toasted brown rice cake (toasting a brown rice cakes makes ALL the difference — light and crispy!!) or almond butter on an apple. I read the almond butter ingredients to make sure it's just almonds and doesn't have added sugars or oils.
70 Percent Cocoa Dark Chocolate
I love the Chocolove brand — it's delicious! It has a good chocolate flavor without being too bitter. Also, the texture is very silky smooth.
DARA GODFREY, MS, RD — Based in NYC, specializes in fertility nutrition
A Post-Workout Pick
Post workout, I often grab a Strawberry & Basil Siggi's 2 percent yogurt, a perfect combo of carbs and protein to help rebuild muscle and maintain energy levels.