It has been difficult to stick to a healthy diet during quarantine when you’re stuck inside with food and a lack of distractions. This can lead to mindless snacking whenever given the chance. This is especially true for volume eaters — people trying to nourish themselves with foods that are low in calories but high in amount. It is necessary to find snacks that are both tasty and which you can eat a lot of, all while nourishing your body. As a volume eater myself, I have had plenty of bad experiences with feeling hungry or dissatisfied while trying to eat healthy, ending in a binge that leaves me feeling bad — physically and mentally — the next morning. Here is a list of four snacks that can satisfy the appetite of an indoor life and will keep you energized for the day. Even after quarantine, these ideas are great for bringing on the go!
- Seasoned popcorn
Popcorn, often recognized as “junk food” due to its affiliation with movie theaters and Target trips, is actually a go-to healthy snack that is perfect for volume eaters. At about 150 calories per four cups for most air-popped brands, popcorn is perfect for the mindless snacking that comes with Netflix parties and long homework days.
If you don’t have a popcorn maker at home, purchase some low-calorie bagged or microwave popcorn and shake it up with your favorite spices. Make spicy popcorn with cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and garlic powder; taco-inspired popcorn with chili powder, salt, and ground cumin; or dessert popcorn with low-calorie or dark chocolate chips to enjoy as a late-night snack. The key to popcorn that makes it perfect for volume eaters is that a large amount goes a long way, plus it is low in fat and high in fiber.
- Veggies and dip (hummus, tzatziki, you name it!)
Grocery stores sell countless dips that are both filling and low in calories. One of my all-time favorites is Trader Joe’s cucumber tzatziki. This satisfying dip is only 30 calories for two tablespoons and tastes great with cucumbers or on rice cakes; I like to add a little bit of garlic salt for some extra flavor.
The great thing about such a refreshing and low-calorie snack is that multiple servings can still easily fit into your nutritional needs. Try carrots — a veggie high in antioxidants and potassium — or sliced cucumbers with hummus and tzatziki for a quick and filling snack that can be taken anywhere. Another easy option if you’re not a huge fan of tzatziki or hummus is going back to basics with ranch dressing; you can use your favorite dressing as long as you stick to the serving size, and have as many veggies as you want on the side for a filling snack instead of a small handful of chips that will leave you hungry long after your meal is over.
- Decorated rice cakes
One of my favorite snacks when I’m eating healthy is rice cakes with toppings. Rice cakes are light and crunchy, and adding your favorite toppings makes them almost like avocado toast that you can have multiple slices of. An all-time favorite healthy snack of mine is two rice cakes with cream cheese, spices (salt, pepper, and paprika) and cucumber slices on top, reminiscent of tea sandwiches on warm spring afternoons. I use a mini avocado for rice cake “avocado toast” and add two fried egg whites on top for extra protein.
Feel free to add whatever you like, as the rice cake is more of a vehicle than anything. The great thing is that you can add whatever you want without having the extra calories from bread. I also enjoy rice cake crackers, which are miniature versions of rice cakes that act as chips and can be paired perfectly with your favorite dips.
- Satisfying soups
Lastly, another “snack” that is more commonly known as a meal is soup. Soup may be thought of as boring at times, but finding ingredients and spices that you really enjoy can make all of the difference. Make a low-calorie, hearty chicken soup by boiling chopped celery and carrots in a pot of chicken broth. To make this dish easier and lower in sodium, I use chicken bouillon cubes for flavor and add some shredded chicken when the veggies are almost ready (after about 20 minutes of boiling). Also feel free to add any other vegetable that you like.
If you don’t want to cook, grocery stores also offer many options for canned or boxed soups that are easily microwavable, whether you’re at home or work. I enjoy the 80-calorie butternut squash soup from Trader Joe’s, which is low in calories and sodium but still filling and tastes great. Butternut squash is also full of potassium, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke, and its fiber helps you maintain proper blood sugar levels. Use this recipe that adds just a few ingredients to make this soup taste even better!
Remember, when you’re trying to eat healthier and make a lifestyle change, it isn’t necessary to cut out food groups or restrict yourself. Rather, eat in moderation and listen to your fullness cues. Snacks like those listed above make it a little bit easier to ignore serving sizes, but remember that caloric needs vary for every single person, and you must find what works for you in the process of making lifestyle changes rather than quick fixes.