You've conquered couch snacking at home, you've mastered mindless munching at the office - but are you ready to abolish binging at the beach?
When it comes to staying healthy while on vacation, one of the largest stumbling blocks can be the disruption in our routine and our access to home comforts (you know like counters to prep on, tables to sit at, and a knife and fork!). Eating on the go is just harder. The whole situation is compounded when we're on the beach where we need to think of snacks that are not only healthy, but portable, "sand-resistant," and easy to prepare ahead of time and keep fresh until it's time to dig in.
Think that beach-friendly food only comes in a bag or a wrapper? Think again!
OK, so you may have thought of this one already - but don't pass it over. Fruit is an amazing healthy beach snack because it comes with its own built-in packaging! Peaches, apples, cherries, oranges and bananas are great options.
But you don't have to be limited to whole fruit. Just a splash of lemon juice on cut fruit will help you avoid browning (and having to toss a knife in your beach bag --eek!). Did you know that you can pre-cut an apple and then wrap it with a rubber-band to keep it fresh for later? It really works!
Variation: For an added punch of protein, try adding a travel-size, single portion of your favorite nut butter.
Pack up your favorite veggies and some hummus and head to your beach chair! This snack is not only nutritious; it's delicious - thank goodness!
Chickpeas (the base for hummus, in case you didn't already know) are packed with both protein and fiber; which when you're trying to lose weight, are sure signs of a food that will help you stay full longer! Nice!
Try different flavors until you land on your favorite, or make your own. And think beyond carrots or celery - broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, asparagus, and green beans make excellent dippers too.
Tip: Just be sure to pre-portion 1-2 TBS of hummus for dipping, to avoid over-indulging.
OK, not so fast - put that bag down! Toss the potato chips and corn chips aside because we're talking about homemade kale chips, spinach chips, zucchini chips, and even roasted chickpeas (ok, yeah, those aren't chips) but you get the idea!
"Chips" like these are a MUCH healthier option and easier to prepare than you think - simply made in the oven with a light dose of olive oil and sea salt.
Make a batch of your favorite and they'll last 2-3 days in an air-tight container.
Overnight oats are a fabulous fix-it-and-forget-it snack or meal replacement that travels well. They are basically raw oats placed in the refrigerator overnight that soak up whatever liquid you place them in, for a creamy treat come morning. You can use milk, any non-diary milk of your choice, or yogurt.
Then you can toss in any of a number of toppings (mix-ins)! There are so many recipes out there that you are sure to find a bunch that suit your tastes - from those including fruit or chocolate (yum!) to those with hints of savory herbs or spices (ahh).
Instead of a mason jar or other container, make yours in a thermos so you can easily tote it to the beach in the morning!
A quick and easy way to cut calories with your beach snacks and lunch is to toss the bread. I know, bread is delicious, but who wants to feel lethargic and bloated on the beach anyway! Once again, we will be turning to vegetables for this beach snack trick.
Our favorite bread replacements are cucumber, bell pepper, and lettuce, but think outside the box and we bet you'll find that many of your favorite veggies make great sandwich bookends!
At the right is a "cucumber sandwich" by The World According to Egg Face. You can load your veggies with traditional fare like ham and cheese or turkey, but below we've got some even more creative options! So lose the bread and gain a really awesome low calorie beach snack or mini-meal.
6. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great beach snack as long as you don't over indulge - but that's what pre-packed portion-sized containers are for! Portion them out and toss them in your bag. Balance them with the other great snacks on this list and you'll be set to go!
If your usual go-to is peanuts or almonds, try branching out with walnuts, which supply heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Or try macadamia nuts, which are also loaded with good fat. We promise they'll become a new favorite- even without the cookie around them! Remember that they are calorie dense, so a few is enough.
Note: If you are watching sodium intake, chose unsalted nuts.
Another food that comes with its own packaging is eggs! Hard boil some; and instead of making traditional egg salad sandwiches, try munching on an egg straight up paired with a low fat individual cheese wedge or wheel for a protein-packed snack.
You can even pair your cheese and eggs with fruit for a mini-meal on the go. For about 240 calories you can enjoy 1 large egg and the fruit and cheese salad at the right by Mini-Babybel.com.
Reduce your calories by using egg whites only (20 calories less).
Note: If you are limiting calories and cholesterol, watch portions of cheese and eggs and limit your intake to a few times a week.
Another way to find healthy snacks for your beach bag is to make them yourself. Use a mini-muffin tin so that whatever you create is portable and pop-able!
Oatmeal To-Go Cups - Only 40 calories each!
Yields 36 Mini Muffins
In a medium bowl, hand blend with a spoon until well mixed. Coat pan with cooking spray. Fill your mini baking pan with a spoonful of your "batter" in each cup. Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Very lightly drizzle the tops with honey, and that's it! Store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. (I've heard that they last much longer, but my family eats them up too fast for me to test!)
Notes: Depending upon the size of your banana and eggs, the amount of milk required will vary. Always add the milk last. You may only need a splash. You are looking for a muffin batter consistency that isn't too runny but doesn't stick to the spoon.
Who doesn't love a good cocktail by the pool or soda on the beach? But we're on vacation - chances are we are consuming extra calories all over the place. So when it's hot and we're on the beach or by the pool, it's best to stick to water. Booo. No wait! But water doesn't have to be boring!
Kick it up a notch! Here are some ways to make water refreshing again.
Need more ideas like this? Visit infusedwaters.com - where site founder Amy encourages us all to join her experiment to trick her taste buds into drinking more water!
Are you a sucker for ice cream on the beach?
As you can see from the list above, we've focused on whole, fresh foods, rather than packaged snacks. Many packaged snacks will be higher in calories, loaded with salt, and won't fill you up for very long, which contributes to overeating. Plus, as an added bonus, whole foods often cost less!
Here are five snacks you'll definitely want to AVOID when packing your beach bag. Though they seem like perfect shore-side snacks, they are not the best options. All of these are not as healthy as they seem and will quickly tip the scales on your daily calorie counts.
Ever since the fat-free craze of the late eighties and nineties, pretzels were touted as a healthy snack due to their lower fat content compared to chips. But pretzels never did and don't really have any nutritional value. Made with white flour, the body quickly converts them to sugar and then asks for more so they never seem to fill you up!
These are another snack that came out of the fat-free craze, but these days it's hard to find plain ones anymore. Steer clear of all the flavored varieties, for sure. But even plain ones don't even offer any nutritional value to your body. They are OK in moderation as a treat but wouldn't you rather something else on your treat list?
Fruit bars, nut bars, fiber-packed bars, hint of chocolate bars? Whatever variety you try, most granola bars contain teaspoons full of sugar and a long list of multi-syllable ingredients and artificial flavors. Grab your favorite package of cookies for a quick comparison of ingredients and you might be very surprised.
Most dried fruit will include double to even triple the sugar content of fresh fruit. In reality it should be treated as candy and popped about as often as, say, M&Ms. Another dangerous aspect of dried fruit is that it contains fructose which is an ingredient that doesn't single your brain to stop eating. So unless you have really great willpower, dried fruit will not be your friend.
How about something like: “The calorie count in trail mix tips the scales quickly, as many mixes contain dried fruit (see above) and chocolate candies. More importantly, most packaged mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans-fat. Instead, make your own train mix using mostly nuts, plus a few raisins and/or chocolate chips for a little sweetness.
Don't be fooled by labels that make junk food seem healthier. Junk is still junk, even if it has a trace level of veggies or happens to be gluten free. Most of the veggie content in vegetable chips is so small and processed there's no nutritional value left and in the end, no matter what kind they are, a chip is still a chip. (Sorry!)
Snacking while distracted (like while reading on the beach), can contribute to over-eating. Did you know that research shows that being distracted or not paying attention to a meal makes people eat more at that meal? And researches have also found that, conversely, paying attention to a meal helps us eat less later on.
So when you do break out your snacks on the beach, take a moment to sit and enjoy them. Be aware of how much you are eating and what you are eating rather than leaving an open bag of snacks by your side while your mind is elsewhere. Being mindful of what you eat and can help you make healthier decisions!
Get up and take in the scenery and get moving. If you are active and enjoying swimming, walking and interacting with family and friends, you are less likely to constantly think about eating.
What is your best idea for a healthy beach snack? How to you prepare it or package it for ideal shore-side snacking?
Author: Chrissy Doremus
Chrissy is a Diet-to-Go editor and contributor and co-owner of Two Clever Sisters, LLC. She is enthusiastically raising a whole-food-loving family in the suburbs of NYC with her husband, where her guilty pleasures include Pinterest and half-baked brownies (preferably together). When it comes to fitness, she simply likes to move often and lift heavy things, but has been known to stop mid-workout to pop into a Zumba class when she hears her favorite song - because healthy living should be FUN!