I am not ashamed to admit that I am a serial snacker! I rarely go for more than a couple of hours without a nibble, so I try to put some effort into selecting healthy snacks. Snacks can certainly be included as part of a balanced diet, but in case you are struggling for ideas I will share with you a few of my tried and tested favourites.
Eating regularly throughout the day helps to prevent blood sugar levels from dropping, giving you a more constant energy supply and reducing the likelihood of overeating at mealtimes.
My golden rule for a nutritious snack is to include some protein (group 1) as well as low glycaemic index (more info: low gi diet) carbohydrate (group 2). Here are some options from each group with an idea of portion size…
Group 1: Protein Foods
- Nuts – 4-8 nuts / dessert spoon peanut butter
- Houmous – 1 tbsp
- Seeds – 1 dessertspoon
- Cheese – 1 slice / Babybel / cheese triangle / 1 tbsp cottage cheese
- Low fat yogurt – small pot (125g) / 3tbsp from large pot
- Milk – 200mL skimmed or semi / calcium-enriched non-dairy
- Ham – 1 slice
Group 2 – Low GI (slow release) Carbohydrate Foods
- A portion of Fruit – 1 small apple, pear, banana / handful of berries / 2 plums, satsumas / 1 tbsp dried fruit / 1 slice melon, mango / 150mL pure juice / 6-8 olives
- Veggie sticks – approx 8 sticks, any combination of carrot, celery, pepper, mangetout, sugar snaps, cucumber, or 5 cherry tomatoes
- Oatcakes or Rye crackers – 1 or 2
- Toast – half a slice of wholegrain / granary / rye
- Cereal – 2 tbsp Muesli / All Bran / Porridge Oats
- Dark chocolate – 2 squares, ideally >70% cocoa
- Biscuit or bar – 1 digestive / Hobnob / oaty cereal bar (occasional treat only!)
If you are only having a couple of healthy snacks you can probably afford to have larger portions but remember that if you are introducing snacking you will need to compensate by eating less at mealtimes or by doing alot more exercise, else the pounds will pile on!
Snacking on the go
Healthy snacks at home are easy but at work or out and about you have to be a little bit more organised with provisions. Here’s where I keep mine, believe me there is very little effort involved!
- Handbag – always contains a little tupperware pot of some combo of mixed dried fruit, nuts, muesli, berries, seeds, dark chocolate
- Desk drawer at work – box of Ryvita, box of Oatcakes, bag of apples
- Fridge at work – pack of diet yogurts, net of Babybel light, pot of Houmous, light cheese spread or cottage cheese
- Gym bag – cereal bar in case I need a pre-workout kick, money for a skinny cappucino afterwards
- Glove compartment – Bag of dried apricots, prunes or figs
My friends and colleagues think I’m a little mad but they know where to come when feeling a bit peckish and I wouldn’t be much fun to be around if I didn’t have to hand my healthy snacks!