Healthy Snacks & Strategies for the Midday Munchies

May 17 2017
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

Every day around 3pm, I find myself raiding the pantry and fridge! Before I know it, I've snacked my way through hundreds of calories. How can I get this habit under control?

3 O'Clock Snackster
Answer@2x Hi Snackster,

We've all been there! Here are some strategies you can use to set yourself up for success, plus some smart snacks you can feel good about grabbing!

Reevaluate your meals.

If your main meals aren't nutritionally balanced (with lots of protein and fiber, plus some smart carbs and healthy fats), it makes sense that your stomach starts rumbling a few hours after mealtime. I remember one HG staffer always struggling with late-afternoon hunger until she realized she had practically no protein in her usual lunches! She started adding a pouch of tuna to her lunchtime salad, and that snack frenzy became a thing of the past. If you're not sure how much protein, fat, etc., is in each of your meals, try logging your food with an online diary like CalorieKing. Then adjust as needed!

Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night.

Your sleep and diet are connected! If you feel fatigued, you're less likely to make sound food decisions and more likely to mindlessly munch. For your brain to be in tip-top shape, start winding down earlier in the evening to get in those ZZZs. I've found that the sooner I put down my phone, the sooner I drift off to dreamland...

Take a walk outside (instead of to the kitchen!).

You’d be amazed how quickly your cravings can fade when you give yourself some fresh air and stretch your legs. It will make you feel more alert, so you're less likely to snack due to feelings of afternoon burnout. If you can't get outside, hit the hallways for a quick stroll... Bonus points for stair climbing!

Drink up.

No, I don't mean you should kick off happy hour early! Reach for water, the friend that should always be by your side. It’s very common to mistake thirst for hunger. So before you start to snack, try drinking a glass of water. If ice-cold agua doesn't do it for you, try room-temp water or a cup of hot water with lemon.

Plan for snacks.

There's nothing wrong with snacking... as long as you're reaching for the right stuff. And that means planning. Keep smart emergency snacks on hand at all times. If you work in an office, keep a stash in your desk drawer and some snacks in the work fridge. On the go all day? Toss some shelf-stable treats in your bag. If you track your calories (a good idea for anyone looking to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight), just factor the calories into your daily total. I like to keep my snacks around 200 calories or less, but figure out what works best for you!

Here are some of my favorite afternoon snacks...

Grab-n-Go Meat Snacks

I’m all about protein, and now you can get it to go! Shelf-stable meat snacks are becoming increasingly popular; think jerky and meat-based snack bars. My favorites are the offerings from Simply Snackin', DiMario, and Vermont Smoke & Cure. Most of these snacks have just 45 - 90 calories and are practically pure protein. Yes!

Veggies + Low-Cal Dip

Veggies have filling fiber and a satisfying crunch! Go for carrot sticks, jicama sticks, cucumber slices, and more. Salsa is my number-one dip, with tons of flavor and only about 10 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. Hummus is another go-to veggie dip; just portion it out to avoid overdoing it!

Fruit + Nuts

Another winning combination! I like to pair apples with almonds and strawberries with pistachios. Nuts have those good-for-you fats, but they're also calorie-dense, so measure a single serving before you snack.

Greek Yogurt

Fat-free plain Greek yogurt is an absolute staple in my life. It's loaded with protein and low in sugar, perfect for afternoon snacking! If the tart taste doesn't do it for you, stir in a packet of no-calorie sweetener (like Truvia). This is an ideal midday treat if you've got access to a fridge!

Pouched Tuna

I've been known to stick my fork straight into a pouch of this shelf-stable lean protein. StarKist makes the best pouched tuna: pre-seasoned, portion controlled, and super delicious. I also love it on high-fiber crackers, like the kind by Wasa. So filling!

Hope these tips and snack ideas help you out! Keep in touch, and let me know how it goes...

Chew on this:

Today, May 17th, is National Cherry Cobbler Day. Dig into this cherry-rific parfait!

You're not the only one who experiences midday snack attacks. Click "Send to a Friend" to help your pals out!

Have a Question for Hungry Girl?

Send it in! She answers new Qs each week (but cannot respond to emails personally).


We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.

SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) when calculating the value of a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients using the Recipe Builder, not the calculator. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)

*The SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by WW International, Inc., the owner of the SmartPoints® trademark.

Hungry Girl provides general information about food and lifestyle. This information and any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Click here for more information.