Whether it’s grabbing a banana between meetings or reaching for the cookie jar at 3:00 PM, fueling our busy, modern lives is no longer wholly dependent on just three square meals. Research suggests that the clear majority of us are now snacking regularly between mealtimes.
Healthy snacking can be part of a well-balanced diet, but it depends on what constitutes a snack and why you’re snacking. Plus, keep in mind that portion size and nutrition quality matter. Snacking can be a great way to increase your sense of feeling full, keep energy levels stable, and provide a source of nourishing nutrients.
how can you snack right?
Snacks to eat: Be on the look-out for snacks that contain fiber, protein, and good quality carbohydrates. This magic combination helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. Think wholegrains, nuts, veggie sticks, hummus, popcorn, and yogurt. Nut butter on apple slices is a high-fiber fix that will help curb sweet cravings and also boost your fiber and protein intake. The combination of protein and fiber helps to keep the hunger pangs at bay and provides long-lasting energy.
Amount: Consider your portion sizes, keeping in mind that a snack is not a main meal. You want to make sure you’re eating enough before that “hangry” feeling kicks in without getting to the point that you feel full when the next mealtime arrives. In general, aim for snacks that contain no more than 200 calories. This could be a small tub of plain unsweetened yogurt, a piece of fruit, a handful of unsalted nuts, or a boiled egg.
Eat the rainbow: Make fruit and veggies your first choice for a snack, as most of us aren’t getting enough of these in our diets. Adding them to your snack stash will help you reach your daily goals. It doesn’t have to be carrot sticks or an apple either. Think of foods like fruit-based bliss balls, veggie dips, and homemade muesli bars prepared in advance, which means they’ll be ready for you to enjoy when hunger strikes. The humble banana is also a great mid-afternoon snack as the vitamin B6 helps your body create and use energy, and it also helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.
MORE TIPS TO SNACK SMART
CRAVINGS. Have you had enough water? We often mistake thirst for hunger, so if you’ve eaten recently but are still feeling hungry, try drinking a big glass of water, waiting 20 minutes, and then see if you still feel like eating a snack.
FREQUENCY. The number of snacks you consume depends on your activity level and meal size. If you’re very active, you may prefer two or three snacks per day, while a more sedentary person may do best with just one snack.
AVOID. Highly processed snacks such as salty chips or cookies may give you a burst of energy, but you’ll feel hungrier an hour or two later and find yourself going back for more. Plus, they provide little to no nutritional value. Instead of coffee, try fortified almond milk in a smoothie or between meals. The extra vitamins can help your body unlock and use energy.
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Visit sanitarium.com.au and subscribe to Wholicious Living for more great health and nutrition info each month.