Snacks get a bad rap. The typical image that comes to mind is a food that’s salty, sugary, deep fried or some other tempting combination of the three. But despite their reputation, these small bites can be an important part of your healthy, balanced diet – if they’re done the right way.

In a recent Neilson study, 94 percent of adults said they snacked at least once per day.

If you’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it’s recommended that you eat six to eight snacks or small meals daily to ease digestion and maintain the best quality of life, said Maria Petzel, senior clinical dietitian for the Pancreas Surgery Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

A healthy snack should include a protein paired with a fruit, whole grain (as tolerated) or a vegetable, Petzel said. If you’re experiencing diarrhea, opt for low-fiber breads, crackers or cereals, and peel thick-skinned fruits and vegetables.

Ready to start snacking? Here are nine quick, healthy snacks perfect for pancreatic cancer patients, but also delicious enough to share with your family and friends:

  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut, almond or other nut butter with 1 sliced apple, 1/2 cup carrot sticks or 1 sheet graham crackers
  • 1-2 ounces low-fat cheese (such as mozzarella string cheese) with 1/2 cup whole grain pretzels or 1 whole grain tortilla
  • 1-2 ounces unprocessed meat with 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 10-15 (or 1/4 cup) nuts with 1/2 cup plain cooked oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup hummus with 1/2 cup cucumber slices or 5-6 whole grain crackers
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit
  • 1 hardboiled egg with 1 slice whole grain toast
  • 1/2 cup milk or soy milk with 3/4 cup cold cereal
  • Homemade smoothie: 1/2 cup fruit, 1/2 cup liquid (milk, soy milk or juice), and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (may use protein powder instead). Mix all ingredients in a blender.

If you’re looking for more healthy eating ideas, view our pancreatic cancer diet and nutrition recommendations, or check out our collection of recipes created for pancreatic cancer patients. For diet-related questions, contact a Patient Central Associate.