Smart Fuel Strategies

Making changes at meals and snack times can make a big difference in helping you feel great. Use these strategies to nourish and fuel you throughout your day and beyond!

  1. Snack smart
  2. Pick heart-healthy fats
  3. Portion like a pro
  4. Eat more plants

Snack smart

Photo: bowl of yogurt with granola and blueberries

Take a smart approach to snacking. Make snacks work for you by choosing nutrient-rich foods from the grains, fruit, vegetable, dairy and protein food groups. Snacks can boost your energy between meals and also provide a good source of vitamins and minerals. Plan ahead, keep it real, and enjoy!

Below are some strategies to help you snack smart and complete the challenge!

  • Make snacks work for you by choosing nutrient-rich foods from the grains, fruit, vegetable, dairy and protein food groups. There is a place for snacks in a healthy eating plan. Just choose wisely. Check out these smart snacking tips [PDF].
  • Did you ever eat a bag of chips or a cup of yogurt without really tasting a single bite? Try bringing all your senses to each eating experience. Starting with a snack (instead of a whole meal) is a simple way to experiment with mindful eating. Breathe in the aroma, notice the texture, each flavor and really savor every bite from start to finish. Learn more about starting a mindful eating journey [PDF].
  • You can always make a healthy swap whether you’re craving something sweet, salty crunchy, or creamy. Check out these healthy swaps for your favorite snack foods.
  • Bring healthy bites when on the go and keep a stash of healthy snacks at your work station. Take good care of yourself by making sure you have a nutritious snack to boost your energy during long periods between meals. Plan ahead and be prepared. Check out these healthy snack ideas:

Pick heart-healthy fats

Fat is important for our overall health. Fats tend to get a bad reputation, but not all fats are created equal. Some fats are healthier than others!

Mono- and polyunsaturated fat are the healthiest type of fat. Plant oils such as olive, canola, corn, peanut and other nut oils; nuts such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios; avocados; and fish—especially oily fish such as salmon and canned tuna are excellent sources of unsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fat can improve blood cholesterol profiles, lower triglycerides and lower your risk for heart disease.

Saturated fat is less healthy, it can raise “bad” cholesterol in the blood. The best strategy is to limit (not eliminate) foods that are very high in saturated fat such as butter, cheese and red meat and replace them with foods that are high in healthy fats such as plant oils, nuts and fish.

Trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil (oil that has been chemically processed to make it more shelf-stable) is especially bad for your health. Eating even a small amount of trans fat on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease. Best to avoid trans fat altogether. Most trans fat in people’s diet comes from commercially prepared baked goods, margarines, snack foods and processed foods.

Below are some strategies to help you pick heart-healthy fats and complete the challenge!

  • Be purposeful and add a “healthy fat” to your day. Choose almonds, avocado (guacamole), pistachios, and walnuts, ground flaxseed added to oatmeal or yogurt or another healthy fat food choice! Check out these ways to choose healthy fats.
  • The majority of salad dressings are high in saturated fat, as well as full of sodium, sugar and other preservatives. Whether you like a vinaigrette or the creamy stuff, you only need a few simple ingredients (and a couple minutes) to make some yourself. Make your own salad dressing.
  • Avocado is incredibly nutritious and a great choice for healthy fats. It can be used in almost any dish. Try one of these avocado recipes.
  • Add fatty fish to your weekly menu. Fish is a good dietary source of fat-soluble Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and has many health benefits.

Portion like a pro

Photo: small bowl of almonds

Along with choosing healthful foods and beverages, it’s important to listen to your internal signals of hunger and satisfaction. Keeping portion sizes in tune with your body’s cues can help you feel satisfied, manage weight, and sometimes save money!

Below are some strategies to help you portion like a pro and complete the challenge!

  • How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Do you know how much food is enough for you? Do you understand the difference between a portion and a serving? Just enough for you: About food portions.
  • Start with smaller portions. A small portion may be just right to satisfy your hunger, but if not, you can always have more. Check out the small plate movement.
  • Anyone eating on the run or at restaurants has probably noticed that food portions have gotten larger. To see if you know how today’s portions compare to the portions available 20 years ago, quiz yourself on Portion Distortion by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
  • “Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.” It sounds so simple, yet countless people struggle with putting this principle into practice. Find the balance:

Eat more plants

A variety of colorful fruits and vegetablesFruits and vegetables are the colors of health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has been linked to improved health, and for good reason. Fruits and veggies (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and some types of cancer. Think color! Fruits and veggies come in a variety of colors and flavors, but their real beauty lies in what’s inside.

Below are some strategies to help you eat more plants and complete the challenge!