To snack or not to snack? And what to snack on? These questions have probably crossed your mind many times.
Done right, healthy snacks can keep hunger at bay, keep energy levels on an even keel and fill nutritional gaps. Done wrong, snacking can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and even hungrier (and cravings) more morsels than before.
What foods should I snack on?
Ideally, foods that have a combination of [slow releasing, high fibre] carbs for sustainable fuel and protein for satiety.
Here are some examples of the carb/protein combos:
Fruit + 1 cup natural yoghurt
Greek Yoghurt + handful nuts/seeds
wholegrain crackers + hummus or avocado or ricotta
Veggie sticks and hummus
fruit + nut butters
fruit and nut bliss balls
Portions matter. Eat the amount that is just enough to control hunger without feeling too full. Frequent snacking may result in loss of appetite during the main meal. A healthy snack should be less in size or quantity to the amount of a regular meal and taken at least 2 hours before a regular meal.
Snack with purpose. Get in the habit of placing even small snacks on a plate before you eat them. This will force you to acknowledge exactly what and how much you will be eating – aka – mindful eating.
Are you really hungry? If you’ve just eaten within the last 30 minutes, chances are you are not physically hungry. You may be thirsty. Hunger is often mistaken for thirst, so drink some water and re-assess.
Drop distractions. Research shows that eating while distracted makes it harder to recall the amount of food consumed, prompting you to eat more. Set aside time for eating without looking at your social feed.
Image credit. University of Washington