The snacks you eat every day can make or break a healthy diet. Healthy snacking is a great way to respond to your body’s hunger cues and keeps your body feeling energised as well as your mind focussed until your next meal. Regularly reaching for less healthy snacks, such as potato chips and chocolate bars, will make you feel sluggish and may have long-term consequences for your health.
Below are some nutritionist and dietitian-approved tips for smart snacking.
Prioritise fibre & protein
High-sugar snacks may give you a quick energy boost but this will soon be followed by the inevitable “sugar crash”. Protein and fibre-rich snacks provide you with a slow release of energy, keeping you satisfied until your next meal.
Some examples of protein and fibre-rich snacks include;
- Unsalted, dry roasted or raw nuts
- Wholegrain crackers with low-fat cheese
- Low-fat yoghurt with muesli and/or fruit
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Low-sugar muesli bars
- Air-popped and unsalted or lightly salted popcorn
- Vegetable sticks or wholegrain crackers with hummus or peanut butter
- Roasted and spiced chickpeas
- Hard-boiled egg with curry spice or pepper
- Chia pudding
- Miso soup with tofu
Make your own
All the snack ideas listed above can easily be made at home with the right ingredients and equipment. This will ensure that your snacks don’t include unnecessary added sugar, salt, fat and additives which the commercial varieties often contain. Involving the kids in the preparation and cooking process will make them more excited about eating the healthy snacks they’ve made.
Control portion sizes
Don’t treat snacks like they are another main meal – they should be smaller in size and energy content. Avoid snacking straight from the bag or box, as you won’t be able to see how much you’ve had and won’t fully appreciate the food you are eating. Instead, portion out your snack onto a plate or into a container for later.
Keep them convenient
The overabundance of vending machines and convenience stores makes it easy to snack on foods which are nutrient-poor and energy-dense. Having healthy grab-and-go snacks on hand at home and at work will prevent you from reaching for these less healthy options.
Practice mindful eating
Eating in the absence of hunger or when you’re distracted can lead to overeating. Before you start snacking, take a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling – respond to your body’s cues by snacking when you’re hungry, rather than when you’re stressed, sad or bored. Avoid snacking while you’re doing tasks that require concentration, such as reading, working, driving, watching TV or using a computer.
Written by Genna Vlitas, Student Dietitian