If you're like most dieters, you find yourself craving a little something between meals. And that's just fine. Snacking is an important part of healthy dieting.
Just be sure you snack smart rather than blindly grab something from the fridge, freezer or pantry.
My friend Beth Aldrich -- green living expert, writer, engaging speaker, media personality and food coach -- urges you to put down the Devil Dog and try granola-topped yogurt, celery or carrots, whole-grain toast or whole grain crackers, apples or oranges.
Better yet, try a whole grain (high fiber) cereal bar from Kashi. Their ingredient list is very clean and free from chemicals and preservatives.
Here are Beth's 11 best snacking tips:
Designate a snacking zone in your home to avoid countless calorie build up because of mindless munching in front of the TV or computer.
Make it quick. If you need to snack on the go, think beyond a bag of potato chips. Bring a handful of almonds, sunflower seeds or walnuts or even string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars or other drip-free items to keep your car mess-free.
Don't be fooled by labeling gimmicks. Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.
Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks - such as whole grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, whole-grain cereals can give you energy with some staying power.
Out of sight, out of mind. If the cookie jar is full, you'll probably clamor for cookies. But if there aren't any cookies in the house, fresh fruit or raw veggies may seem more appealing.
Think outside the box and try something new, such as fresh pineapple, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or roasted soy nuts. Slice a whole-wheat pita and enjoy with hummus.
Revisit breakfast. Many breakfast foods - such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain toast make great afternoon snacks.
Use the freezer. When bananas have gotten black and soggy, simply peel and place in a freezer bag. Frozen bananas and berries mixed with apple juice and ground up flax makes a super mid-day smoothie snack.
Sweeten it up. Healthy snacks don't need to be bland. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars or agave nectar.
Remember your leftovers. A small serving of last night's casserole might make a great snack.
Drinks count too. Drink plenty of water between meals. Liven it up with a squirt of lemon, cranberry or other fruit juice.
For more information on Beth, check out www.BethAldrich.com.