Do you eat snacks?
If you would like to know more about why snacks are good for you and how to make the right choices for you, keep reading.
Snacks are a normal part of a balanced eating pattern. When we go through long periods of time without eating can leave us feel tired, while it also impacts on our concentration, mood, and appetite regulation. For a lot of us, the timing and size of meals will vary depending on our daily pattern, involving work, sleep, exercise, socialising etc. However it is well known that the human body functions best when we eat regularly throughout the day, i.e. every 3-4 hours. This would normally translate to 3 meals and 2-3 snacks in the day. If you consider that most people are awake at least 16 hours per day, snacks can play an important role to help us function at our best form.
Here are some more good reasons you should have snacks!
1) Snacks can contribute to giving fuel and essential nutrients in our body, as part of a balanced diet.
2) They assist with re-establishing and regulating your hunger signals and appetite.
3) They help you establish habits that can prevent binge eating, caused by delayed or infrequent meals.
4) They can keep your blood sugar stable, which can minimise tiredness, irritability, poor concentration, and cravings.
5) They will improve metabolic function and prevent your body from getting into a ‘starvation mode’
6) They can help you fuel before and after exercise.
7) They can act as 'emergency' fuel sources in unplanned events, e.g. if you are stuck in a meeting or in traffic or if you decide to go to the shops in the afternoon and have dinner a bit later.
How do you decide on which snack?
A simple tip is combining at least two food groups, as this can help you consume a variety of nutrients, as well as feel more satisfied. As an example, if you have a banana you may feel peckish soon after, whereas, combining it with a source of protein or fat, for example a yogurt or peanut butter, will give you energy for longer. In addition, if you are looking for a filling snack that can keep you going until your next meal and prevent you from overeating, make sure you include foods high in protein and fibre (such as wholegrain carbohydrates).
See some snack examples, grouped in the four groups below:
Fruit and vegetables
Fats and other foods
Slice of toast/pitta bread/bagel/crumpet/pancake/teacake Oats/muesli/granola/cereal Crackers Oatcakes Crisps Tortilla chips Cereal bar Potato cake/English muffin Pretzels Popcorn
Any fresh fruit (e.g. apple, grapes) Dried fruit Banana chips Dried fruit bar Carrot/celery/ Pepper slices Mini tomatoes/cucumber Fruit/veg juice or smoothie
Yogurt/kefir Glass of milk Cheese Boiled egg Tuna Edamame beans Deli meat (turkey/beef/chicken slices) Hummus Milkshake/milky coffee
Nuts/seeds Nut butter/Tahini Nutella Avocado Guacamole Olive oil Chocolate Biscuits Cake/muffin Traybake (e.g. flapjack)
See some example combinations below:
Hummus and carrot sticks
Oatcakes and cheddar cheese
Toast with egg or mashed avocado (add black pepper+lemon for extra flavour)
Glass of fruit juice and cereal bar
Milky coffee and brownie
Orange, spinach and ginger smoothie with nut bar
Hot chocolate and biscuits
Yogurt with granola
Crackers with hummus or cottage cheese
Porridge pot with fruit/dried fruit (or readymade oatmeal)
Grapes with cheese
Banana/apple with nut butter
Cereal with milk
Sandwich with filling (e.g. cheese and tomato sandwich made as ½ or full sandwich)
Boiled egg and handful of carrot buttons
What about the portion size?
The portion size may be adjusted depending on how hungry you are, your physical activity level, work schedule/daily routine, and your individual energy needs. What works for someone else may not work for you.
For example, you may need to use three food groups to satisfy your personal needs, such as banana, peanutbutter AND a milky cup of Horlicks, or having yogurt with nuts AND an apple. Or you may opt for a single food group, such as a cereal bar, or a fruit sometimes.
For more information and individual advise, please contact me at email@example.com
Snack your way to better health!