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Publication #FCS8698

Healthy Eating: Smart Snacking1

Jennifer Hillan and Linda B. Bobroff2

Snacking can be good for you! Healthy snacks provide vitamins and minerals that may be lacking from your main meals. Keep these smart snacking tips in mind the next time you have a "snack attack."

Follow MyPlate

Choose a variety of nutrient-rich snacks from all five MyPlate food groups. Here are a few examples:

  • Fruits: apple slices, banana, blueberries

  • Vegetables: grape tomatoes, carrots, celery sticks

  • Protein Foods: hard-cooked egg, black bean salsa, nuts, leftover chicken, hummus

  • Dairy: low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, low-fat string cheese

  • Grains: whole-wheat crackers, oatmeal, leftover rice or pasta

Keep it convenient

Have healthy snacks available and ready to eat. Keep fruit washed and vegetables cleaned and sliced in the refrigerator for easy snacking!

Plan for snacking

Eat snacks two to three hours before mealtime so that you don't ruin your appetite for the next main meal. Snacks are meant to settle your hunger until your next meal, not make you feel full.

Figure 2. 

Bite-sized fruits such as blueberries are a convenient and nutritious snack.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

When to snack?

Snack only when you're hungry. Avoid snacking when you are just bored or stressed. In those cases, find something else to do like read a magazine or walk around the block.

Go easy on high-fat or sugary snacks

Snacks like chips and candy are okay once in a while, but choose most of your snacks from the five MyPlate food groups.



La versión en español de este documento es Alimentación Saludable: Meriendas saludables (FCS8698-Span). This document is FCS8698, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published in February 2005, this fact sheet was originally developed with funding from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs in partnership with state, county, and local agencies. Revised March 2010. Reviewed with minor revision, August 2011 and May 2012. Visit the EDIS website at


Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator/trainer, and Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RD, LD/N, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.