One of my favorite snacks are nuts. A handful a day may not only help to prevent heart disease but recent studies show they can also promote weight loss! The catch? Keeping your intake to just one handful (technically 1/4 cup is a serving). Simply put, grabbing too many can pack on the pounds because although healthy, they’re naturally high in calories and heart healthy unsaturated fats (about 160 calories/16 grams of fat per serving). So before I scare you away from them altogether let me share a few simple ways you can consume this awesome snack without undoing your diet:

  • Consume raw nuts. In their most natural state you’ll get all the health benefits without the bloat from the salted versions. You’ll also be less likely to over eat them this way.
  • Practice portion control. Don’t buy huge containers if you know you won’t be able to contain yourself. Buy prepackaged nuts and nutbutters, like Justin’s 80 calorie almond and peanut butter packets (one of my FAVS!). If you do buy the larger containers, make your own snack packs as soon as you get them home from the store: put 12 walnuts (full of omega-3s) or 24 almonds into each snack bag and limit yourself to 1 per day.
  • Incorporate small amounts of nuts throughout the day. With a high percentage of fat, nuts are satisfying and will help keep you full. Try sprinkling 2 tablespoons on morning cereal/oatmeal, into yogurt at snack, or use a couple teaspoons of your favorite nut butter in a homemade salad dressing, like in this Mark Bittman recipe:

Toss mâche or another soft green with toasted slivered almonds and roughly chopped fresh figs. Thin some almond butter with water and sherry vinegar to taste and use as a dressing.