The NEED to snack?
The need for snacking, like all things nutrition, is very individual. Active kids will certainly need snacks to fuel them through their busy days. For adults however, I can’t give you a black and white answer to this question.
Healthy snacking can provide some brainpower, a healthy nutrient and energy boost (think about that 3pm slump) and stop you from facing your next meal with 10 out of 10 hunger levels. This is a major PLUS for snacking. On the other hand, snacking when you are not hungry, or for the sake of your usual routine may lead to undesirable weight changes – some people are just made for the three-square-meal-a-day approach to eating.
If you’re not quiet sure what suits your dietary pattern stop and consider two important factors:
1. Listen to your body’s hunger cues.
Do you have real signs of hunger between meals suggesting a satiating (AKA filling) snack is required?
2. If you are often hungry between meals, check that your meals provide the perfect balance.
This balance will make sure you are receiving important nutrients for the day and keep you feeling full and satisfied.
If you decide that you do need a snack...
When searching for the perfect snack, think about minimally processed, real food that provides a bundle of nutrients (don’t just look at it for its fat or sugar content). When lined up with common snack foods, a wholesome snack should win the race for satisfying hunger and stabilising energy levels.
When we are addressing that 3pm 'slump' try a snack that has some protein and a small amount of low GI carbs such as yoghurt, milk, nuts with fruit or ricotta on wholegrain toast. This little combo of nutrients does wonders for your energy levels - these naturally sweeter foods often satisfy that sweet craving too.
Let’s take a look at some wholesome snacks – lots of these can be used on the road when travelling for work.
- Fruit (ALWAYS A WINNER) – canned, fresh or frozen
- Apple pieces with peanut butter (YES it's a match made in heaven and keeps you feeling full)
- Fruit salad with thick Greek yoghurt
- A small handful of nuts and seeds – keep small containers handy
- Mix nuts and seeds with small portions of dried apricots and cubes of cheese
- A small handful of home-made trail mix – try:
o Almonds, some dried cranberries and some white choclate buds
o Almonds, chopped dried apricots and some dark chocolate bits
- Natural or Greek Yoghurt – freeze the night before if you will be in car for the day
- Greek yoghurt with mixed berries, a sprinkle of seeds and a little drizzle of honey
- Canned tuna
- Hard boiled eggs
- Mini frittatas / mini egg muffins
- Roasted chickpeas – Be Natural & Chicknuts are good brands
- Small-medium milky coffee
- Vitaweets or Ryvita with hummus, avocado or cheese (cottage or cheddar)
- Smoothies – keep milk handy and some fruit in the freezer ready to blend
- Mix some bocconcini cheese with some cherry tomatoes and basil in a small container
- Slice of wholegrain toast with cottage cheese and tomato
- A slice if wholegrain toast with ricotta, chopped strawberries and mint
- Chopped veggies with hummus or another nourishing dip such as a beetroot dip
- Celery boats filled with a nut butter or ricotta and sprinkled with sultanas or sesame seeds
- Shelled edamame beans
- Healthier muesli bars – Goodness superfoods, Carmens, Uncle Toby’s farmer’s picks, Be Natural nut bars*
*Although these choices are nutrient dense with nuts, oats, seeds etc. they are high in kilojoules (energy), which may not be desirable if weight loss is a goal.