Top Tips for Snacking
You might already have planned on what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner but what about the spaces in between? This is often that knocks people off their healthy eating regime. What do you snack on when the hunger pangs hit? This is one of the most common asked question in my clinic with clients.
Nutritional science now recognises (mainly through studies looking at what happens when you don’t eat) that, for most people, the ideal ‘diet’ scenario is that they eat three meals and day with no snacks in between. This means your body gets a rest from eating from time to time, which it really does need in order to reset your digestion and allow repair in the body. When you work on your diet as a whole, your cravings and energy levels will come back into line if you focus on eating real food, always having a source of protein and plenty of veg and scaling back starchy carbs. This is called balancing your blood sugar levels. While you are working on this, it can be helpful to have a small, snack keep your blood sugar levels balanced in the first while of eating this way.
As a nutritional therapist, I want to make sure any snacks you do have are the best ones for your health and are in line with your health and weight goals e.g. weight loss. Sadly, many of ready-made snacks, while they pretend to be healthy, are filled with high-sugar dried fruits (which can upset your blood sugar levels) or additives, so assemble your own where you can.
There are a few reasons why we snack:
1. Often, people eat for reasons other than actual hunger and this is often emotional based. That might be from boredom, out of habit or because someone brought some sharables into the office that looked tasty. This is not a time to snack. Snack fix: if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If you’re tempted to snack, ask yourself, ‘Am I really hungry?’. Give yourself those 60 seconds to think about it and often you find it easier to resist the snacks.
2. Another reason you might end up snacking is that you haven’t had a decent, protein-based breakfast that keeps you feeling full. Toast or cereal for breakfast is a sure-fire way to a mid-morning energy dip that will leave you wanting to refuel before lunch and this is when you feel like reaching for the biscuit or coffee fix. Tip: pick a protein-packed breakfast like porridge (or overnight oats) with berries and seeds, or some kind of egg-based option. Even a protein shake works if you’re in a hurry. Remember: blood sugar balancing meals help to stop the energy dips.
3. Ever had a dreadful night’s sleep then been forced to prop yourself up with coffee and snacks through the day? It’s no surprise that lack of sleep is bad news for health. As far as snacking is concerned, there is some unofficial law that states you will almost certainly feel hungrier if you’re often forced to get by on less sleep than you need. Tip: if you recognise yourself here, it’s time to make sleep a priority. Every single aspect of your health is crying out for it. Your waistline will thank you for it and your energy levels during the day will improve.
4. Long gaps between meals can leave you feeling hungry and for a good reason. Lunch at 1pm, then not eating your evening meal till 7 or 8pm is a long gap. In THIS case, it might make sense to squeeze in a little something part-way through. Tip: if you know you’ll have a very long gap between two meals, plan ahead, so you can have a healthy snack to hand (see below for ideas). Planning ahead means it’s less likely for you to reach for the bar of chocolate.
Some of my top snack ideas are oatcakes with hummus, apple slices with no-sugar nut butter, mixed nuts & seeds with probiotic yogurt, smoothies, miso soup, veg sticks & hummus/cottage cheese. If on the go, choose small bags of nuts or seeds, bananas, low sugar flapjacks or fruit salads or a smoothie you can grab and go.
Feel free to leave your comments below on this article. You can also book a FREE 20 minute health review call with Aine to see how she can help you reduce your snacking by clicking https://www.goodfoodnutrition.co.uk/free-consultation