Ahh, snacking. Everyone’s best and worst friend. I don’t know about you, but I’m a chronic snacker. When I’m out and about, busy during the day, it’s way more comfortable for me to stick to three meals a day. But when I’m home- it’s like my hunger doesn’t stop.

I’ve learned how to differentiate between actual hunger and just boredom, and I know the importance of not depriving yourself of a snack when you’re hungry. If you’re hungry in between meals, eat! It’s as simple as that. But whether snacking for you is a once in a while occurrence or something that happens every day, consider following these simple snacking rules:

Choose protein first

Chips, pretzels, and fries all sound like my ideal snack, but I’ve grown to learn it’s always good to choose protein first when it comes to snacking. You want your snack to be healthy and filling enough to tide you over to your next meal, and protein will do just that. Cheese, yogurt, and nuts are all great protein-packed snacks.

Pay attention to portion size

A snack should be just that- a smaller sized portion of food that will hold you over until your next meal. A snack shouldn’t be a meal in itself! When you’re hungry, it’s easy to keep eating until you realize you passed the point of snack and are venturing into full-on dinner territory. But that’s why it’s essential to set out a right portion size and put the rest away to limit temptations of turning your snack into a meal.

Go for fiber

A snack that is higher in protein and fiber will most likely be lower in carbs and added sugar, making it the perfect midday pick me up. Fiber will help you stay fuller for longer, meaning you’ll be snacking less in between meals. Choose fiber-dense snacks like avocados, pistachios, and apples.

Simple snacks

Snacking should be simple. You can put more time and effort into your actual meals, but snacking should be easy. Stick to simple ingredients snacks made with real, whole foods. Protein bars are a great simple snack since they’re so easy to grab out the door, but make sure you choose one that isn’t packed with additives. Some of my favorite bar brands are GoMacro and RXBARS.

Limit sugar, carbs, and sodium

Although all of these are good and necessary for our bodies in moderation, they’re not the best to look for in snacks. Overeating sugar can spike your insulin, and too much sodium can cause water retention, which will do the opposite of keeping you full.