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Are you confused about what, when, and if to snack? Do you get hungry when you stay up late and yearn for s​omething to munch on before bedtime?

Ronda Elsenbrook, a registered dietitian in Dietitian and Nutrition Services, answers some of your most common questions about eating between meals.

“Snacking is a good way to increase intake of healthy foods and not be overly hungry at meals so portions can be smaller,” she says.

Ronda recommends incorporating fruits and vegetables, paired with a source of protein, to keep energy levels stable throughout the day. For example, fruit with a small handful of nuts or raw vegetables and hummus can make great snacks.

According to Ronda, there is no set time for snacking.

“If you are hungry and your next meal is several hours away, it’s a good time for a snack.”

What about snacking before bedtime?

“It is always OK to snack if you are hungry, regardless of time,” Ronda says. “Before bed though, I would advise you to keep it small.”

Here are some of her favorite healthy snack suggestions:

Ronda Elsenbrook’s Healthy Snack Ideas (150-200 calories)

  • Celery with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • ½ cup pineapple with ½ cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces light or Greek yogurt with ½ cup high fiber cereal or fruit
  • Piece of fruit with 1 ounce reduced-fat or 2% cheese
  • Raw vegetables with 1/3 cup hummus
  • 3 cups popped popcorn with ¼ cup nuts
  • Whole wheat tortilla with ¼ cup fat-free refried beans, ¼ cup reduced-fat shredded cheese and salsa
  • Two graham cracker squares with tablespoon of Nutella (Chocolate-hazelnut spread)
  • Half a sandwich
  • Bar and prepared snack suggestions: Luna, Kashi TLC, Cliff Kid Z Bar, Balance, Zone Perfect, Larabar, South Beach, Chex Mix