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Middle of the Day Hunger

By Toni Viles, RD/LD

Q:  I’m always so hungry in the middle of the afternoon but nothing seems to satisfy me unless I eat way too much. What are some healthy snacks that will keep me satisfied until dinner?
A:  Snacks can be a great way to satisfy hunger and prevent overeating at the next meal. Unfortunately, most snack foods are very processed and lack the staying power of some foods so many people end up getting more calories as snacks than they need. The keys to picking a healthy snack that will stick with you are fiber and protein.

Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Foods with more fiber are digested more slowly so you feel satisfied longer. Adults generally need about 25-35 grams of fiber daily but most Americans only get 11-14 grams. Aim for at least 2-3 grams of fiber at your snack.

Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts, and seeds. The body takes longer to break down protein so you will feel full longer. About 5-10 grams of protein should do the trick! It is important to be wise when choosing your protein since many of the best sources are also high in saturated fat - like cheese - which can be hard on your heart. Aim for less than 2 grams of saturated fat for a snack. Some other protein sources are also high in total fat - like nuts - so moderation is important.

Here are some healthy snack ideas that will help curb your hunger without excess calories:

  • 1 small apple with 1 Tbsp peanut butter- 150 calories, 4g fiber, 5g protein.
  • 2 plums & 12 almonds- 145 calories, 3g fiber, 5g protein
  • 2 cups cantaloupe balls- 120 calories, 3g fiber, 3g
  • Celery sticks & 1½ Tbsp peanut butter- 145 calories, 3g fiber, 5g protein
  • ¾ cup edamame (soybeans) - 150 calories, 6g fiber, 12g protein
  • 1- 6” whole wheat tortilla with 2 Tbsp hummus, alfalfa sprouts, sliced tomatoes, & cucumbers- 140 calories, 10g fiber, 5g protein
  • Smoothie made with 6 oz light yogurt, 1 cup frozen berries, & water- 150 calories, 3g fiber, 6g protein
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow Light cheese with 10 Wheat Thins Fiber Selects Crackers- 150 calories, 3g fiber, 6g protein
  • 5 oz Oikos Greek Vanilla Yogurt with ½ cup blueberries- 150 calories, 2g fiber, 15g protein
  • 1 oz Smart Food Popcorn Clusters, Chocolate Cookie Caramel Pecan + 6 almonds- 160 calories, 6g fiber, 3g protein

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians.

Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.