If life is hectic between work, taking kids to and from school, sports and after-school activities, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you may feel as if there’s no time to eat healthy. But if you have a schedule like this, it is even more important to make the time and effort to choose healthy foods to maintain your energy level.

Snacks are an important part of your daily intake, as they help keep you satisfied until your next meal and keep you energized.

- Keep nonperishable foods in your car so you always have something when hunger strikes. This will help eliminate the need to stop at a convenience store or fast-food restaurant for soda, french fries or ice cream.

- Look for foods with complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grains breads and crackers, and high-protein foods, such as cheese, nuts and yogurt. These foods will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time and will aid in avoiding weight gain.

Here are some healthy snack options:

Ants on a Log: Cut celery into sections, spread peanut butter on the celery, and top with raisins.

Cheese and Crackers: Choose low-fat cheeses and whole-grain crackers.

Fruit: Fresh or dried; when choosing dried fruit, compare food labels, and choose ones that contain less sugar.

Granola Bars: Compare food labels to choose bars that contain at least 2 grams of fiber, and avoid those are high in saturated fat, sugar and artificial flavors.

Hummus: Spread on veggies, pita bread or crackers. Hummus is high in protein, vitamins B and C, and potassium.

Ice Pops: Make them yourself: Pour 100 percent fruit juice into ice-cube trays. Insert a toothpick into the middle of each compartment. Cover with plastic wrap to help hold the toothpicks in place. Freeze and enjoy.

Milk: Grab an ice-cold glass of low-fat milk for some added calcium and protein; try vanilla-, chocolate- or strawberry-flavored milk.

Nuts: Packed with healthyomega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and protein. Watch the portion size, as there can be 170 calories in just 1 ounce

Peanut Butter: Place some on whole-wheat bread or crackers, or use as a dip for apples.

Raisins: Grab an individual box on your way out the door to help reach your daily requirement of fiber.

String Cheese: Easy and fun to eat anywhere and anytime.

Trail Mix: Create your own using granola, nuts, raisins and dried fruit; add chocolate chips or M&M’s for added sweetness.

Veggies: Cut up some raw veggies for something to crunch on between meals.

Yogurt: Gogurts are great to enjoy on the go.

 

Making healthy snacks part of your daily meal plan can help maintain a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism and keeping you satisfied in between meals. Studies have shown that people who eat healthy snacks in between meals eat fewer calories at mealtimes.

By feeding your body every three to four hours, you are keeping the body working and burning calories. When you go long periods of time without eating, your body does not have to work as hard, and your metabolism slows down, which can result in weight gain.

Keep yourself and your children energized between meals by planning ahead and always having healthy snacks available.