If you are like many of us, you need a snack or two throughout the day to get through in one piece. Mid-morning and afternoon are key times to top up your engine and prevent hitting the wall. This can mean you will end up binge eating at your next meal and not having a level head to choose what your body needs not just what smells the best in the food court.
Snacking can help you meet all the food groups you need in a day, nearly all of Australians do not eat enough fruit and vegetables. You can use snacks to make sure you add a serve or two of fruit or vegetables which will boost your body’s health with added fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals needed for the healthiest version of you.
Snacking does require preparation to be successful. Here are some useful steps you can take to be a snack superhero:
- Plan your snacks for the week prepare to have the foods available.
This means creating a shopping list and thinking about the snacks you want to include over a week or a few days in advance. Variety is the spice of life but also helps you meet all your nutritional needs. Plan and see how you are eating over a day and if you see areas where you are not including enough of a food group e.g. dairy aim to include a snack which has this food group. I recommend thinking of snacks in a balanced way, including a serving of vegetables or fruit and then half a serve of protein and half a serve of whole grains. Examples could include:
- 200g yogurt (both a carbohydrate and protein source) + 1 cup of frozen berries
- 1 cup of vegetable sticks like celery, carrots, capsicum, cucumber + hummus/ricotta + 5 small rice crackers
- 1 slice of wholegrain toast + 1 large boiled egg + 1 cup of cooked mushrooms/spinach to add on top
- 1 tablespoon of 100% peanut butter + 2-3 wholegrain crackers + banana
- 30g (small handful of nuts) + 30g air popped corn
- Small bowl of soup + piece of bread + 1 teaspoon of olive oil for bread
- 95g tinned tuna in spring water + 2-3 crackers + piece of fruit/vegetable sticks
Unplanned snacks can get you into nutritional trouble. The opportunities to eat sometimes foods and drinks is unreal and if you do not prepare something you will fall into reaching for the muffin in the kitchen or choosing a can of coke over something more than just energy through sugar and caffeine.
- Pay Attention to Your Food.
It is so easy to snack in the car or on the run or at your desk while working but this removes the focus and relationship with your food. By mindfully eating you will appreciate the flavours and textures more and feel the way the food is benefiting your body more than if you just scoff it down. You will also allow your body to feel and process the feeling of being satisfied more effectively and is a reason why slowing down can help maintain a healthy weight by preventing you from overeating. When you mindfully eat this also helps prevent discomforts like indigestion and heart burn by allowing your digestive system to work the way it is intended.
Take home message: there is nothing wrong with snacking. Snacking can give you the energy you need to top up before your next meal and tick all the boxes of food groups your body needs for optimal health. The key is to plan for success and take the time to appreciate the food in front of you. Appreciating and honouring your relationship with food at both meals and snack times will help you enjoy food more as well as improve your overall health. That muffin in the kitchen or chocolate bar in the vending machine will be much easier to avoid if you take these steps.