The easiest way to choose low fat snacks is to avoid heavily processed or prepackaged foods. Even though supermarkets are often flooded with packaged products that claim to be low in fat, there are better options available. The best snacks should be appealing, filling, and healthful in addition to being low in fat.
Prepackaged or heavily processed foods, even the products that are marketed as being low in fat, are not ideal snack choices. Manufacturers often replace the fat they remove from their products with artificial flavors and salt to enhance the flavor and make low fat packaged foods taste better. These heavily processed foods have a number of drawbacks, especially compared to healthy whole foods.
Added salt from packaged foods can increase sodium intake dramatically, possibly causing daily intake to surpass the recommended levels. Artificial ingredients have no nutritional value, and often are not as satisfying or filling as eating unprocessed, whole foods. If you feel no satisfaction from the snacks you are eating, you are much more likely to keep eating in hopes of feeling satisfied; eating excessive amounts of low fat foods can be worse than eating full fat foods in moderation.
Fruits and vegetables suffer from an unfortunate negative association with unpleasant diet food, but they really are some of the best options for low fat snacks. Raw vegetables — such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower or cucumbers — and fruits — such as apples, bananas, citrus, and berries — are virtually fat free. All of these snack options are also full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which means they ease hunger while promoting good health.
Another great alternative is low fat dairy. Dairy products such as cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese sticks, or yogurt are great low fat snacks. Technically, these are packaged, reduced fat foods, but because they are minimally processed and do not usually contain additives, they are still excellent options. Dairy products contain calcium to aid in bone development, and protein to help keep you full and satisfied.
Protein also makes chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna fish, and eggs excellent options for low fat snacks. These foods can help make a snack feel more substantial without contributing a lot of excess fat or calories. Using protein to replace fat helps increase both physical satiety and psychological satisfaction.
Mixing and matching these suggested foods is the best way to get maximum satisfaction and nutritional benefit from a low fat snack. Try mixing some fruit into low fat yogurt, eating tuna or cottage cheese with whole wheat crackers, or dipping raw vegetables into hummus or bean dip. Diversifying your low fat snacks is a good way to stave off boredom and stay committed to eating healthy.