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Healthy Living: Smart snacks

Losing weight and getting fit always seem to be at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. After a month of holiday merrymaking, even if you’re not actively trying to lose weight, you’re probably ready to start returning to a healthier way of eating.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up little treats like the occasional snack.

In fact, I just ran across an idea from our friends at Kellogg’s that could help you snack and STILL lose weight: Substitute their healthy Special K snacks for higher-fat, higher-calorie snacks, and you could save from 246-306 calories per day.

Over a week’s time, that adds up. In fact, it would be enough of a calorie savings for the average adult to lose at least half a pound.

Their plan goes like this: The average adult, ages 20 to 70+, eats an average of 486 calories per day in snacks, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  Healthy Special K snacks – like multigrain snack crackers, strawberry fruit crisps, or sour cream and onion cracker chips – contain an average of 105 calories per serving.

So, even if you eat two Special K snacks every day, you’d still consume an average of only about 210 snack calories. Choose the lowest-calorie snacks, like Special K cereal bars, which contain only 90 calories per bar, and you’ll save even more calories.

Cutting calories, eating a balanced diet and exercising is the time-honored way to lose weight, of course. But, by the way, even the American Dietetic Association believes snacks have their place in a healthy diet for most people. Their caveats:

• Snack only if you’re truly hungry. Don’t eat out of habit or boredom.

• Treat your snacks like nutritious mini-meals, and include their calories in the day’s overall calorie limit.

• Exercise portion control. You should always serve yourself an individual portion, rather than eating directly from the container, which makes it easy to overeat. Individually wrapped snacks are the way to go if you lack willpower.

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