COVID-19 has changed the world for all of us. For some, the stay-at-home orders have confined us, creating feelings of anxiety and fear which may lead to overeating of high-carbohydrate, high fat foods. For others, specifically farm families, daily life may not have changed that much.
This is often a very busy time of year, which can create a sense of urgency to get everything done. For these individuals, it often requires long days of working in the field and then hours spent caring for animals. This schedule leaves little time for meals. These two situations seem worlds apart, but they have a common thread — making healthy snack choices extremely important. Our bodies need energy to perform optimally. Whether you are working or learning remotely from home, feeling stressed about the current situation, or managing the demands of heavy physical work, healthy snacks can help support your nutritional needs.
The foods and beverages we eat and drink provide important nutrients to keep our bodies running smoothly. The USDA provides simple guidance for healthy eating at ChooseMyPlate.gov. This website provides useful information to help you make healthier choices by focusing on variety, amount and nutrition; choosing foods and drinks that are low in saturated fat, sodium and added sugar; starting with small changes; and supporting healthy eating for everyone. There is even a section where you can click on your state to see a list of locally grown and produced foods.
These tips apply not only to meals, but to snacks as well. Healthy snacks can play an important role in our daily diet. They can provide energy and prevent us from feeling hungry between meals.
When choosing a snack consider some of these tips:
• Choose whole grains such as popcorn or whole grain crackers, because they provide fiber and are generally low in sugar, saturated fat and sodium.
• Lean protein such as low sodium deli meats, eggs or nuts not only provide necessary nutrients but can help you feel full between meals.
• Fruits can be a quick and easy grab and go snack; remember whole fruit is best.
• Keep an eye on serving sizes. Snacks should not replace a meal, so sometimes single serving containers can provide just enough for a snack.
If you are looking for some specific snack ideas, consider some of these options offered by the National Institute of Health at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/healthy-cooking.htm:
• Toss sliced apples, berries, bananas or whole-grain cereal on top of yogurt.
• Put a slice of cheese on top of whole-grain crackers.
• Make a whole-wheat pita pocket with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.
• Pop some fat-free or low-fat popcorn.
• Trail mix made with whole grain cereal, dried fruit and nuts.
• Drink milk blended with a banana or strawberries and some ice for a smoothie.