Smart Snacking

While many people try to avoid snacking and see it as the biggest obstacle for weight loss, there are times when eating between meals can not only be good for you but imperative! Hunger is a powerful physiological signal, it is telling you your body needs food and you should respond to it by eating something.

Eating between meals for other reasons such as habit, boredom and comfort, however, is a whole different issue that needs to be tackled by identifying motives and behavioural change.

It’s perfectly healthy to snack and needn’t cause weight gain, just remember it’s not snacking that’s bad for you, it’s what you snack on. Of course we need to choose our snacks carefully so that they don’t contain too much fat, sugar or salt, instead they should provide beneficial nutrients such as calcium, fibre and vitamins.

They should also compliment what you have eaten at a previous meal, for instance, if you have had a bowl of wholegrain cereal and semi-skimmed milk for breakfast, a piece of fruit is a good choice for a snack mid-morning, if you had a slice of toast and a glass of fruit juice, a low fat yoghurt later will better compliment breakfast, and if you had a bowl of natural yoghurt with fresh or dried fruits, a wholemeal scone is a good choice for later.

If you are stuck for ideas, try these easy healthy snack suggestions:

Wholemeal or fruit scone with jam.
Small bowl of wholegrain breakfast cereal with semi-skimmed milk.
Half sandwich or slice of toast with banana and a little honey.
Handful of rice crackers or a rice cake.
Half a bagel with low-fat cheese spread.
Keep your fruit bowl topped up, but remember to grab a piece everyday, don’t watch it rot!
Handful of dried fruit.
Handful of mixed nuts and raisins.
Small bag of unsalted nuts or seeds.
Carrot, cucumber or celery sticks with 1-2 tbsp. reduced fat hummus.
Breadsticks with low fat spicy salsa.
Chopped melon, pineapple and mango.
Frozen grapes.
Low-fat yoghurt/fromage frais or rice pudding.
Low-calorie hot chocolate mix made with semi-skimmed milk.
Cottage cheese and crackers.
Fruit smoothie made with semi-skimmed milk.

Foods such as crisps, chips, biscuits, chocolate and sweets are common snacks that are high in fat, sugar or salt. They are fine to eat occasionally, but should not be an everyday choice. If you are unsure whether a snack you are choosing is an everyday or an occasional food, check out the nutrition panel and follow these guidelines:

Good Choice:
Fat content is up to 3 grams per 100g
Sugar content is up to 2 grams per 100g
Sodium (a component of salt) content is up to 0.1 grams per 100g

Occasional Choice:
Fat content is 20 grams or more per 100g
Sugar content is 10 grams or more per 100g
Sodium (a component of salt) content is 0.5 grams or more per 100g