To snack or not to snack? There are different schools of thought about snacking and it depends on many factors. Everyone is individual with a different set of circumstances.
Snacking can be a time when people overeat on sugary, carb heavy, energy dense foods such as biscuits and crisps. Therefore, what you choose to snack on is what is important and also that you don’t allow yourself to become ravenously hungry which can lead to poor food choices later on.
So, before you reach for a snack, ask yourself a couple of questions.
Am I really hungry? Hunger can often be confused with thirst so have a glass of water first and then see if you are still hungry.
Am I bored? Many people eat out of boredom.
Am I stressed? People turn to food for comfort.
Only eat when you are hungry
Here are my 10 top tips to help you make healthy snack choices:
- Snacking is more about what you eat rather than when you eat it
- If you are going to snack, make it count and eat mindfully without any distractions rather than in front of a screen. This ensures that your body receives the satiety signals which can prevent overeating
- Choose nutrient-dense snacks that will fill you up so that you will be less hungry at mealtimes which can prevent overeating. Avoid snacks that are high in sugar, low in fibre, high in calories, don’t fill you up and spike blood sugar levels
- Keep your snacks healthy by eating protein based options which will balance blood sugar levels and will help maintain your energy levels between meals such as: nuts/seeds; trail mix; oatcakes/apple with nut butter; hard boiled egg; cottage cheese; protein smoothie /shakes; protein bars (containing a minimum of 10g protein); banana & walnut bread; a few slices of lean chicken/turkey; edamame beans; vegetable crudities with 1 tbsp. hummus etc
- It can be easy to overeat on healthy snacks so don't use this as a licence to just eat what you want. Ideally, a snack should contain no more than 250 calories, just enough to fill you up but snacking should not be seen as an opportunity to overeat
- It can be all too easy to spend a lot of money on snacks when it’s not really necessary. Don’t forget the snack industry makes millions of pounds every year and spends a lot of money on marketing. So, make up your own snacks e.g. bulk buy almonds and then make into portions so that you have a small handful ready to snack on
- When buying so called energy/protein bars, read the label and the list of ingredients carefully. They are heavily marketed to make them not only look good but taste delicious but are often very high in sugar, contain very little protein and are devoid of nutrients. The high sugar content will cause large spikes in blood sugar
- Don’t get tricked into thinking that all cereal and fruit bars are a healthy snack. They might sound healthy and are marketed as such but they are not. They are often high in sugar and vegetable oil
- Keep snacks with you when you are out and about so you’re not caught out if you’re hungry. When people are hungry they tend to grab the first food in sight
- If you are home or office based, keep your snacks away from you or at arm’s length. By that I mean that if your snacks are on the desk under your nose you are more likely to eat them simply because they are there as opposed to being kept in a drawer where you have to think first before reaching out
Remember, if you need a snack make it count!