Snacking is part of the human nature but unfortunately reaching for that snack is when we eat the least healthy foods.
Snacking is not a sin; it’s the choice of snack that is the key. Many experts now believe that eating little and often (three main meals with small, healthy snacks in between) is a healthy way of eating. Eating regularly (every 3-4 hours) can reduce over-eating at meal times, speed up your metabolism and help with weight control. So, choose tour snacks carefully especially when it comes to the size (portion) of your snack. Also, some snacks may look healthy but can sabotage your weight loss.
- Plan ahead and make sure your fridge and cupboards are stocked with plenty of healthy snacks.
- Do not use snacks as a substitute for proper meals. Plan regular snacks at set time rather than constantly grazing throughout the day.
- Variety is one of the key ingredients in a healthy well balanced diet – try to vary the snacks you choose.
- Plan snacks throughout the day. If you get over-hungry, you are more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack or over-eat at your next meal.
- Snacks should provide you with hunger busting protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals – not just calories.
Simple principles to follow:
Eat breakfast like a King, midday like a Queen and evening like a Pauper
- Natural rhythm of body is to digest and assimilate food far more effectively at midday
- Ideally you would eat 75% of your calories for the day by 4pm in afternoon
- Eat a small evening meal or divide it into 2 smaller portions
- Don’t eat 3 hours before going to bed
Snack little and often
- A large meal will cause elevated levels of insulin jut like eating starch
- ‘Little and often’ sends the body the right signal – there is plenty of food so you can burn fat
- keep your blood sugar at even levels – no mood swings or extreme hunger
- keep hormone levels even
Take the ‘I deserve a little reward’ out of eating. Reward yourself with other things.
Make snacks ahead of time – have a bowl of salad and or chopped vegetables and healthy dips/dressing in the fridge ready. Have some ready prepared fruit and vegetables. You could peel a carrot, slice it up into bite size pieces and chew on it slowly. You will be amazed at how quickly this will satisfy you. Or have a crispy apple. Wash is but don’t peel it as most of the goodness is in the skin.
Keep away from Trans Fats. Trans fats are the worst fats and are often found in microwave snacks, chocolate bars and many baked goods and some savoury snacks. If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated on the list of ingredients of a snack, avoid it completely!
Don’t be seduced by clever marketing. During prime time TV you will be seduced by snack food adverts, many claiming to be low fat or low calorie. They are appealing to the couch potato in you and like many cleverly marketed snack products will try to make you feel good about the choice by highlighting one ‘good’ aspect. Watch out and always consider the whole package not just fat or calories alone. Often they have made the product lethal in another way to reduce the fat or calories. A balanced snack should have a good level of calories, protein (to fight off hunger), fibre, fat, salt and sugar. As a gauge look for:
- 150 calories
- 20g sugar
- 7g fat
- 0.1g sodium
- 10g protein
Healthy Snacking Choices
Snacking is essential to a healthy lifestyle and is a great way to keep your metabolism performing at its maximum level. As long as the snack is good then the potential is effectively eat more and lose weight! However, those that have dieted for years struggle with the thought of snacking in the first instance.
Below is a list of snacks. The list is not exhaustive but it is varied and by adding variety this will help you to stay on track. Each snack varies in nutritional information so you will need to keep an eye on what you are eating so as not to ‘over consume’.
|Fruit||Portion size||Calories||Protein||Carbohydrate||Fibre||Net Carb||GI Ranking|
|Red Apple (pink lady)||1||62||0.6g||15.2g||2.6g||12.6g||30|
Be careful what you choose, not all fruit is good when you are losing weight!
|Portion size||Calories||Protein||Carbohydrate||Fibre||Net Carb||GI Ranking|
|Savoury||Portion size||Calories||Protein||Carbohydrate||Fibre||Net Carb||Saturated Fat|
|Dry Roasted Soya Beans||30g||125||12g||5g||4.4g||0.6g||0.9g*|
|Seed & Nut Mix||25g||143||8g||1.5g||2.75g||-1.25g||1.7g*|
|Wholegrain Rice Cakes (Kallo)||25g||90||2g||18g||0.8g||17.2g||0.4g|
|Spicy Seed Mix||25g||135||7.3g||0.9g||4g||-3.1g||1.4g*|
|Mini Oat Bakes||30g||128||3g||21g||3g||18g||2.6g*|
* Represents healthy fat
|Crackers & Toppings||Portion size||Calories||Protein||Carbohydrate||Fibre||Net Carb||Fat||Saturated Fat|
|Rye Finn Crisps||4 (24g)||80||3g||14.8g||4.8g||10g|
|Ryvita (Sesame Seed)||2 (20g)||68||2.1g||11.7g||3.5g||8.2g|
|Light Babybel||1 (20g)||42||5g||0.05g||Nil||0.05g||2.4g||0.6g|
|Cream cheese (Reduced Fat)||25g||30||3g||1g||0.1g||0.9g||5.3g||1.2g|
|Cottage Cheese (Reduced Fat)||25g||21||3g||1.1g||0.1g||1g||0.5g||0.1g|
|Yoghurts (125g pot)||Calories||Protein||Carbohydrates||Fibre||Net Carb|
|Activia Bio Low Fat||117||4.4g||16g||2.5g||13.5g|
|Greek 0% Total||65||11.25g||4.75g||Nil||4.75g|
Choosing Your Snack
Fruit: Some fruits to be aware of as they create a rapid release of energy are water melon, melon, banana, dried fruits, pineapple, black grapes, kiwi, fruit juice.
Yoghurt: Always look for low fat NOT diet, pre or probiotic, no artificial sweeteners or additives. Try freezing your yoghurt especially if you love ice-cream. It will also mean you will need to take longer over it.
Vegetables: Raw carrot sticks and sliced sweet peppers are great when you have a healthy dip or salsa.
Soup: The liquid base fills the stomach and creates a feeling of fullness. Look for good protein, fibre, carbohydrates and lack of chemical additives. Try adding high fibre crackers or croutons instead of the bread roll.
Nuts: Great healthy food choice but be cautious as can be calorific and good fat but the highest amount of fat so portion control is essential. 4-5 nuts count as a portion!!
Soya Beans: High in protein and fibre. A great evening snack.
Seeds: Very high in fibre and a great source of protein – the ultimate healthy snack. Again, be careful in terms or portions. To keep them interesting and a great metabolic boost then spice them up with black pepper or chilli flakes. Another great evening snack but can also be added to soups and yoghurt.
Crackers: The aim with crackers is to look for the balance of calories, protein and fibre. With your topping you are looking for 150 calories.
Cracker Toppings: Keep your toppings exciting and varied. Great addition to every topping is red onion, black pepper and/ or chilli flakes.
1. Cheese. Stick to low fat varieties and avoid blue cheese as the bacteria can lead to bloating.
2. Houmous. A great source of protein and fibre.
3. Fish. Sardines, mackerel and tuna are best. Choose a tomato based sauce and not oil if tinned. A great source of protein and good fat but can be calorific so be careful with the portion size.
4. Turkey slices. Low in fat, great protein and actually aids sleep so a great evening snack.
So Crispys are Soya based (no white carb), high in protein and a good source of fibre and no additives.
Crispos contain both Soya and potato but are much better than standard crisps.
Soya nuts and seeds are great for weekdays and evenings.
Mini-Oatcakes and Wholegrain Rice Cakes are good for a daytime snack.