During a busy day, a healthy snack can calm hunger, provide energy and reduce the chances you’ll eat less nutritious foods. But, before reaching for the next snack, ask yourself an important question – do you really need a snack?

“You can even think of the acronym HALT,” says Angie Murad, a dietitian for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in the United States. “So am I truly hungry? Am I angry, lonely or tired?”

Murad says if your answer doesn’t start with “H”, skip the snack. She suggests taking a short walk or calling a friend instead. “Do some type of alternate activity to get you out of that pattern of impulse eating,” she adds.

If you are truly hungry, reach first for fruits and vegetables. “They are high in fibre,” explains Murad. “So they can help you feel satisfied for longer periods of time.” She says the same is true of snacks that contain protein – like a hard-boiled egg, low-fat cheeses or hummus.

“Nuts are also a good healthy snack,” she adds. Although she cautions, nuts are higher in calories – an important consideration in snacks.

“If you’re not very active, then you want to consider a snack that’s 200 calories or lower,” explains Murad. Think 100 to 200 calories if you’re not moving around a lot. Even if you’re more active, try to keep snacks to less than 300 calories. – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service