Rising temperatures shouldn't be an excuse for a jump in that ominous red number on the scale. Ellie Krieger, a nutritionist, author and the host of Food Network's "Healthy Appetite," shares her tips for how to snack smarter this summer.
1. Eat for energy
Krieger says that the ideal summer snack is one that refreshes and energizes you but does not weigh you down. Her go-to favorite? Fresh fruit. Instead of grabbing an ice cream cone to help you cool off, freeze some grapes and bananas on skewers and then lightly drizzle chocolate over them.
2. Look for peak-season fruit
Summer is a great time to take advantage of the delicious, peak-season fruit. Check out Epicurious.com's interactive map to find which fruits and vegetables are ripe this month in your state.
3. Pair fruit with protein
If you feel like you are having trouble staying afloat come mid-afternoon, Krieger suggests snacking on a healthy, nutritious protein with your fresh fruit. Opt for easy, grab-and-go sources of protein like nuts, yogurt and hard boiled eggs.
4. Change your favorite snacks
Modify some of your favorite calorie or fat-laden snacks so that they are better for you. "If you love cheese, instead of eating lots of it with starchy crackers, alternate cubes on a stick with fresh fruit," Krieger suggests.
5. Identify what you're craving and swap for something healthier
Munch on lightly-salted air-popped popcorn if you have a hankering for something salty. If your sweet tooth is acting up, get creative with fruit.
"Try blending fruit with low-fat milk and ice for a frothy sweet smoothie, or folding grapes into Greek yogurt with honey," she says. "The key is to think about what you're craving and how you can make a simple swap and still be satisfied."
The American Heart Association has a great list of healthy snacks for all of your cravings.
6. Keep snacks below 200 calories
As America's collective waistline has expanded, so has the amount of snacking-related calories. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, men are consuming two to three times their daily limit of solid fats and added sugars, while women are taking in an average of two to four times their limit in that category.
Over-snacking adds up. Krieger advises keeping snacks below 200 calories, especially if you are trying to shed some extra pounds.
7. Establish consistent meal patterns
There may not be a one-size-fits-all number of times you should snack each day, but Krieger stresses the importance of establishing a meal and snack pattern and sticking with it.
"Many people find it best to include one or two snacks a day, especially one in the mid-afternoon when energy flags," she says.
8. Only snack when you are truly hungry
This may sound like a given, but how many times have you popped something in your mouth because you were bored, upset, tired or because it was right in front of you? Don't make constant nibbling a habit. If you start to feel hungry an hour before the next meal, try to wait it out.
9. Plan ahead
Now that the kids are out of school, they might want to snack more frequently, which could mean you end up snacking more often, too.
"If you have a healthy snack already packed, you won't end up running to a vending machine," Krieger says.
10. Hit up the grocery store when you are on vacation
This is the ultimate planning ahead strategy. Ditch the fast food and pick up some healthy snacks at a local grocery store when you get to your destination. You will save calories and money, Krieger says.