Summer’s finally here! This tends to mean that we’re all feeling a little more self-conscious about our bodies these days, since we finally have a chance to get out from under our winter layers. Fortunately, in the hot days of summer, many heavy, calorie-dense foods suddenly seem less appealing than they did in the dark of winter, and with good reason. Heavy foods combined with the summer heat can serve to knock you out, rather than provide the quick pick-me-up you’re looking for – never mind the impact they have on your beach body.
And yet, there’s still that rumbling in your belly right around 3 p.m. So what can you munch on to tame your hunger without blowing your summer calorie budget? Here are some great, healthy, light snack options that can get you through your afternoon and still leave you ready for the beach.
1. Summer berries
Berries are some of the easiest, healthiest snacks around, and they are in prime season during the summer. Berries offer a ton of nutritional value – as well as intense flavor – without a heavy calorie hit. Keep a bowl of washed, fresh berries at home and throw a handful into a bag or container whenever you go out so you’ve always got this treat on hand.
2. Homemade trail mix
Trail mix is a great summer snack for both the office and outdoor activities. But the trail mix you buy in stores can be heavy on the sugar, salt, and fat. For a lighter, healthier version that’s just as satisfying, simply toss some nuts with your favorite whole-grain breakfast cereals for a custom trail mix blend.
Microwave popcorn is the bane of anyone whose desk happens to be near the office kitchen – that smell! But the flavored (even butter-flavored) versions should really go on everyone’s “avoid” list, since they’re full of calories, sugar, and trans fat. Popcorn itself, though, is a healthy, low-calorie, whole-grain snack. A full three cups of plain air-popped popcorn has only 93 calories. That’s enough to keep you munching for much longer than any (tiny!) 100-calorie snack pack.
4. Rice cakes with peanut butter or cheese
Sure, rice cakes on their own are boring. But top one with peanut butter or cheese and you’ve got a tasty light snack that combines carbs and protein to help keep you full. Be sure to stick to just one serving of peanut butter or cheese to keep this in the “light snack” category. A one-tablespoon serving of PB is about the size of the tip of your thumb, while a one-oz serving of cheese is the size of a domino.
5. Baked chips and salsa or hummus
Who doesn’t love tortilla chips and dip on a warm summer day? Stick to baked chips to avoid the heavy oils and cut some calories. Homemade salsa and hummus are the best, of course, but you can use store-bought as long as you check the labels to make sure the calorie count is reasonable. Once the chips are out it can be easy to just keep eating, so limit your portion size by putting a few chips in a bowl rather than eating right out of the bag.
With these light, summer-appropriate snacks in your repertoire, you can give in to your afternoon snack attack without bankrupting your calorie budget. With healthy, fresh summer flavors that are a treat for your taste buds as well as your belly, these snacks should keep you going all summer long.
Written by Gloria Tsang, RD, author of Go UnDiet: 50 Small Actions for Lasting Weight Loss and founder of HealthCastle.com.