Healthy snacks can be fast food

Plan ahead for fast, healthy snacks when you have a busy lifestyle

Everyone’s schedule is busy and many times we don’t realize we are so unbelievably hungry until our stomach growls and our hands get shaky. By then, most rational thinking is out the door and our brain is issuing an all-points bulletin to get some high-energy food on board – and fast! Donuts in the break room or the candy bar hidden in the kitchen for chocolate emergencies seem like great options, but watch out for quick fixes that are high in sugar and fat. Our hungry body will justify that anything else healthy is just going to take too much time to prepare.

Having healthy fast foods on-hand is the key to giving our body what it wants and what it needs. Fresh fruits are packed with complex carbohydrates that we need for immediate energy and doesn’t bog us down with fats.  Dried fruits have a longer shelf life. The real treat is the fiber fresh or dried fruits contain that most processed snacks cannot come close to offering.

Peanut butter packs a lot of protein per inch, making its complex carbohydrates go further. Nuts in general are a good blood sugar stabilizer (that’s what makes us feel so crazy when our body’s fuel reserves drop) between the protein and fat. Nuts are a large source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, the good fats.

Homemade oatmeal cookies are my secret weapon in giving my family a nutritious snack. They don’t even realize I cut back the fat and sugar, and they still enjoy the flavor of the oatmeal and raisins which are packed with fiber and complex carbohydrates. 

The American Heart Association also lists a number of smart substitutions for snacks and fast food restaurants.

With just a little bit of foresight and preparation, healthy food can be fast food. If nothing else, think of it as a diet for your finances, as those dollars become part of the food budget instead of frittered away. Be creative with what healthy fast food you will find a treat the next time you are famished.

These simple tips are meant to provide general recommendations on how to incorporate healthier options into your life. If you would like to learn more about healthy eating and wellness, visit Michigan State University Extension. MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating and wellness. 

Did you find this article useful?