To snack or not to snack? – This is the question!

Top tips on that snacking minefield….

Snacking has always been an option but now there are high fat, high sugar foods & drinks available EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME! The temptation, therefore, is to choose the WRONG kind of foods to snack on.

Do we really need to snack?

Basically, we need enough nutrients in a day to support our energy expenditure…..not eating enough will cause us to feel hungry & experience periods of low blood sugar, which leaves us lacking in energy & often drives us to make poor food choices.

But every time we eat we cause a release of insulin, whose job is to regulate our blood sugar. Too much insulin is not good for us, so keeping snacking to a minimum or not at all is probably best.  Particularly high sugar or high glycaemic index foods (that give their energy very quickly) will cause high insulin, in turn encouraging weight gain, inflammation (throughout the body) & a blood sugar ‘crash’ soon after.

Allowing our bodies to feel normal hunger is also good – to remind us to eat more mindfully –ie when we are truly hungry, not just because food is available.  TRY TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

However, doing a lot of high intensity or prolonged exercise will increasing your calorie requirement – snacking can help make up that deficit without eating huge amounts at mealtimes – the little & often concept.

So if you decide you really need a snack, try to remember:

  • Always try to include some protein, fat & a carbs (low glycaemic index) to help make you feel satisfied & keep blood sugars stable
  • Beware of misleading claims for ‘healthy snacks’ that actually contain lots of refined sugars (eg many cereal bars)
  • If you do need the convenience of a shop bought snack, look for low sugar (10g per bar is around average but make sure it’s not ADDED sugar – only naturally occurring eg from dates)

Here’s a few ideas:

  • A piece of fresh fruit and handful of nuts (approx. 6) and/or seeds (small handful)
  • Oat cakes (2) or Ryvita (whole grain) with hummus, nut butter, cottage cheese or ½ an avocado
  • Chopped raw vegetables or fruit slices with dip of hummus, nut butter or cottage cheese
  • Pot of natural live yoghurt with nuts (approx 6) and handful of seeds (any of the above) with 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A hard- boiled egg
  • Pear/other fruit slices wrapped with prosciutto
  • Celery sticks with hummus & black olives
  • Carry a small plastic tub of your own Trail mix – any combination of nuts, seeds, coconut chips, dried fruit (only around 10%) & even a few 70% dark chocolate drops if needed to satisfy sweet cravings – amazing how few will do the trick!

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