We’ve all been in this situation:  you’re sitting on the couch, completely captivated by a television show, when all of a sudden you realize you’ve gone through an entire bag of potato chips.  Snacking is one of those habits that is really easy to overdo without even realizing it, and if your snacks are salty or fatty, this can lead to negative health benefits.

PopcornPopcorn is one of the lowest calorie snacks you can choose.  Popcorn kernels are considered whole grains, which are important in disease prevention and maintaining a healthy weight.  Plus, you can eat a lot of popcorn for an amazingly low number of calories, making it one of the least caloric but still filling snacks.  You can top your popcorn with seasonings to spice it up a little bit, but just don’t use too much salt or butter, since doing so can add high amounts of sodium and bad fats.

Hummus – Chickpeas, olive oil, and spices make hummus one of the healthiest dips around.  Skip the dips with sour cream or mayonnaise bases and focus on hummus instead.  This snack contains a lot of healthy fats and fiber, making you feel full without having to consume too many calories.  Try dipping carrot sticks or pepper slices in hummus for an easy way to get your daily serving of vegetables.

Fruit Smoothies – Fruit smoothies are a great way to get all of the great nutrients that come from fruit, along with a fantastic serving of dairy.  Fruit smoothies couldn’t be easier to make either—you can use whatever fruit juice or yogurt you have around with essentially any type of fruit—simply blend everything together and enjoy!  You can add in spinach for some added greens—the fruit will mask the taste so you won’t even know it’s in there.

Salsa — Salsa can be a great snack option because it features lots of fruits and vegetables.  Store bought salsa isn’t too bad for you, but making homemade salsa is typically healthier because you can reduce the amount of sodium.  Eat it with whole grain pita chips or other whole grain snacks like crackers.

Nuts – Nuts provide a major source of protein as well as heart-healthy fats that are good for your diet.  Some of the healthiest types of nuts you can choose include walnuts, pistachios, pecans and almonds.  Just remember to avoid the heavily salted packaged varieties and make sure you’re giving yourself the right portion size; one serving of nuts should be about the size of a large egg.

Oatmeal Cookies – If you really can’t resist snacking on a cookie, just make sure you’re picking a healthy one.  Oatmeal cookies actually pack in some great nutrients, making them one of the more nutritious cookies you can choose.  The oatmeal adds a nice dose of fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and promote heart health.  As long as you go easy on the add-ins like chocolate chips, these cookies don’t have to be too unhealthy.

So the next time you reach for that bag of chips, stop yourself and try one of these healthy ideas instead!  Your stomach will be full but your waist will stay small and you’ll feel great.