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Lose Weight for Summer with These Expert Tips on Healthy Snacking

The New York Times best-selling author Joy Bauer reveals secrets to eating healthy between meals…

Robb Report Health & Wellness editor Janice O’Leary sat down with Joy Bauer, MS, RDN—and a New York Times best-selling author and the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s Today Show—to talk about healthy snacking and her Nourish Snacks.

Can snacking play a role in healthy nutritional habits?

Absolutely. Snacking between meals on the right stuff in the right proportions can help steady blood sugars, increase focus, boost energy, and keep your appetite in check, which prevents overeating at mealtime.

At what point does snacking slide from healthy to unhealthy?

Snacking can easily become destructive—particularly when munchies are concentrated in sugar, devoid of nutrition, and overeaten. Think pressing the Snickers button on the vending machine, grabbing a leftover pastry in the office pantry, or opening a big bag of chips while engrossed in a work project on the computer or binge-watching Game of Thrones. (Yes, I am a Game of Thrones junkie.)

What snacks are most satisfying?

The key is to choose snacks that contain protein or fiber, or ideally both. Heart-healthy fat is a bonus. These nutrients are broken down more slowly and help keep one fuller, longer. But at the end of the day, snacks have to be crave-worthy and taste delicious, otherwise… You know the end of this story.

What role can flavor and spice play in healthy snacking?

Interesting flavors and delicious spice blends heighten every eating experience. And my whole mantra is that people should not have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. I am obsessed with creating new recipes with tasty spice blends, especially when it enables me to minimize the sugar and salt. For example, in Hot & Popular, the fiery peanuts are spiked with bell pepper, tomato, and spicy paprika, balancing out the half-popped corn kernels, which are simply dusted with sea salt.

Is there an ideal calorie count for a midmorning snack? Or for a midafternoon snack?

For the average person, capping snacks at 200 calories is ideal, especially for those looking to lose or maintain their weight. It is even more important to ensure that those calories come from nutrients that satiate, like protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Skip the simple, refined carbs (cookies, candies, muffins, and chips), which can zap energy and leave you feeling hungry an hour later. Instead, fuel up with wholesome foods like nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and whole grains to keep the engine revved and appetite in check.

If someone has a sweet tooth but is worried about sugar intake, how can he or she get the sugar out of the afternoon sweet routine?

If someone is really addicted to sweets, it is wise to do a brief reset—cut out all added sugar for 10 days to recalibrate the taste buds and the body’s biochemically driven system for cravings. Afterwards, cravings will likely diminish. And of course, try healthy swaps: Instead of sugary ice cream, enjoy a frozen banana. Instead of cookies, try toasted cinnamon pecans.

You have just come out with a new line of packaged, healthy snacks. Is that an oxymoron? Can a packaged snack be healthy?

Ha, great question. In a perfect world, we would eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods all the time. But in reality, we are busy people and do not always have the time or forethought to plan ahead. Most packaged snacks are junky—filled with sugar, food dyes, refined starch, excessive salt, and totally devoid of nutrition. I set out to create snacks (yes, packaged ones) made from wholesome ingredients that people could trust and enjoy. They are filled with nutrients like protein, fiber, and antioxidants and are non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, and contain no artificial anything. And because they are perfectly portioned at less than 200 calories, overeating is not an option. ($36 for a 20-pack, $10 for a 5-pack) nourishsnacks.com

This summer, from July 14 through 17, join Robb Report in Deer Valley, Utah, for the 2016 Health & Wellness Summit.