Easy Snacks for a Quick Energy Boost
Tending to your new baby's cries for food, attention or a diaper change may leave you ignoring your own needs and skipping meals. Plus, your hands are always full, so it's just not easy feeding yourself. Before you know it, you're famished.
When these situations happen, turn to a healthy, balanced snack that will give you an energy boost to help take you through the rest of your day.
"Snacks, or what I like to visualize as mini-meals, should include multiple food groups and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals to carry you through to your next regular mealtime," says Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and specialist in sports dietetics from Pittsburgh.
Think of your food as fuel and munch on complex carbohydrates that are nutrient-dense and will quickly be used for energy. Focus on eating whole foods, like whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables (which are packed with nutrients), rather than processed, sugary foods that tend to be high in saturated fat and sodium.
To give you an afternoon pick-me-up, try the following quick and easy snacks loaded with protein and carb combinations. Craving crunch? Go for low-sodium crackers with cheese. Be creative!
- Greek yogurt with almonds and a tablespoon of dried blueberries, which are a great source of magnesium and potassium
- A hard-boiled egg, six whole-grain crackers and a banana
- Nut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread with a few pretzels
- Half a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread, with a piece of fruit
- One cup of bran flake cereal with skim milk, half of a banana and a few nuts
- Three cups of dark-leaf mixed greens with a half-cup of black beans and salsa
- One cup of grapes and eight crackers
If you're on the go, pack some nuts and dried fruit (apricots, raisins, cranberries) into baggies to stash in your purse or diaper bag.
The key to success, says Mangieri, is keeping a variety of staples on hand at home, such as:
- Whole-wheat bread
- English muffins or tortillas
- Fresh fruits
- Raw vegetables
- Hummus (great with mini carrots)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Lean meats
Think ahead and pre-cook items when you're cooking weekend meals, so you have healthy go-to foods on hand. Hard-boil some eggs, grill an extra chicken breast or boil some extra whole-wheat pasta to eat later in the week.
Don't forget to stay hydrated, too. Keep up your fluids by drinking about 13 cups of water a day if you are breastfeeding (according to the Mayo Clinic and Institute of Medicine) and an extra 2.5 cups if you're doing short bouts of exercise.
Replacing lost fluids will help keep up your energy and fight fatigue. And don't wait until you're thirsty to drink — by that time, you're already behind in your fluids. Drink water, low-fat milk or a low-calorie drink with each snack and meal, and in between.