The last in my four-part series on healthy eating for our busy lives covers snacks.
Snacking can be a controversial topic with different schools of thought on the matter; many of us have grown up with the little and often and grazing/snacking mentality and many nutrition professionals have advocated this. On the other hand, and more recently, it has been suggested that perhaps snacking is not needed, and it could be more beneficial, particularly for our gut health, to leave space between meals. Whilst every person is different, and an individualised approach should always be taken, I tend to agree with the latter.
We should all try to consume nutritious and balanced meals which will sustain us from one meal to the next meaning so we don’t feel the need to snack. I am aware this approach does not work for everyone and there are times when we are busy that we find ourselves going for longer periods of time between meals (for example, having lunch at 12noon and supper at 8pm) when a snack can be a good option to get us through and give us an energy boost. This is when what we are snacking on is important. Although it may be so tempting and easy to raid the biscuit tin, sugary snacks are not the most energy friendly snacks and often give us an energy high quickly followed by a crash, leaving us craving more sugar a short time later. Instead, opting for a more nutrient dense balanced snack, containing some protein, can really help to support our energy levels as well as providing us with an extra boost of nutrients.
Being organised is helpful so having some plain nuts and a piece of fruit in our desks or bags to grab when we feel the need can prevent us reaching for the biscuits. I have put together a list of some snack ideas below if you need some inspiration, all of these are quick and easy and many available to buy from supermarkets or local eateries;
One apple chopped (skin left on), dipped in nut butter (e.g. almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter)
One banana dipped in nut butter (e.g. almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter)
A piece of fruit with a small palm sized portion of nuts or seeds.
Vegetable crudités e.g. 1 carrot, ½ pepper, 1 celery stick dipped in hummus or nut butter
1 hardboiled egg with spinach
2-3 oatcakes topped with, nut butter, nut butter and banana, hummus, cottage cheese, or avocado and pumpkin seeds
Greek or natural yoghurt (no added sugar) with fruit
Small handful of roasted/plain nuts or seeds
Brave Roasted Peas (good crisp alternative)
Snack bars – if you have nothing else to hand and opt for a snack bar try to go for a lower sugar option (10-12g or less per bar) – some options are; KIND Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt, Cocoa Orange Nakd Bar, Protein Packed Eat Natural Bar with peanuts & chocolate, or Graze Cocoa and Vanilla Protein oat bites (NB: sweeteners such as polyols used in some bars may cause digestive problems for some people, particularly IBS sufferers, so have a look at the label and choose accordingly).