Over the years, snacking has developed a bad reputation, seen as something to avoid because “snacks are extra calories”, etc. As a consequence, most people don’t snack because they don’t think snacking is a “healthy” habit.
However, when it comes to nutrition there is nothing that should be avoided (well, definitely stay away from fad diets, clean juices, detox teas, etc.) apart if you have specific allergy or other clinical conditions.
Why is snacking important?
- Help manage hunger levels – Many clients report that they don’t have self-control when it comes to meal time and they eat past their fullness point. One of the main reasons is that they are not eating enough or eating satisfying food at their 3 principal meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) or they are not having snacks throughout the day. By learning how to build a satisfying meal and adding more snacks this feeling of “no self-control” disappeared.
- Stabilize and sustain energy levels – When we restrict our diet and we have low energy levels our body demands energy that is readily available and we may end up craving fun food such as chocolate, cake, biscuits. Why? Because we need something that gives us that energy boost (=sugar). Sometimes, we really need fun foods for various reasons (it’s totally fine) but often we are not eating enough. Having balanced meals and adding snacks between meals will keep our body’s energy levels up.
- Help fuel for exercise and recover from exercise.
- Provide additional nutrients in your diet – For example, some yoghurt with fruit and nuts as a snack will provide you with calcium, minerals, vitamins and healthy fats. For those who struggle to eat fruit, adding it during snack time might be a good place to start.
This article will explore 3 steps to choosing a balanced snack. Don’t forget to download my “Snacking guide” by subscribing to my newsletter. Click the picture at the bottom of the page.
Step 1: Identify Nourishing Ingredients
Look at the ingredients: choose nutrient dense ingredients, usually rich in fibre as they help to keep steady energy levels by gradually releasing glucose in your blood. Look out for nuts, seeds, mixed cereals, oat, dried fruits for an energy and fibre boost. Remember that the ingredients are listed in quantity order, with the highest at the beginning.
Step 2: Look out for Sweeteners
Look for natural sources (dried fruit, maple syrup, honey, cane or brown sugar). You might be tempted by low sugar options, however, lower sugar content is not automatically linked to a healthier option. Some bars may be high in sugar because of the naturally occurring sugar coming from dried fruit, fruit purée, etc. Try to limit sugar sweeteners and sugar alcohols (aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, mannitol, sorbito, maltitol, etc.) as they can cause bloating and gas. Be aware that many food labeled as “sugar free” may contain sugar alcohols.
Step 3: Focus on Short Ingredients List
Usually in long list there are ingredients that don’t have any meaning from a nutritional point of view but are need for texture or colour – they are safe, but they usually reduce the quality of the product. In short, long ingredients list may be a sign of highly-processed food and poor quality ingredients.
Click here or on the picture below to download your FREE Snacking Guide.