Snacking can play an important part of our diet. It can help to ensure we get all the energy and nutrients we need for the day and prevent us from becoming too hungry. The number of snacks a person may need in a day depends on their energy requirements. Some of us may need 2 -3 snacks while those who are less active, may not need any snacks at all.
When we choose snacks its important to avoid the ones which are energy dense and nutrient poor. This means they are usually high in sugar or fat and do not provide us with much in the way of other nutrients. Examples include: fizzy drinks, chippies, chocolate, biscuits and muffins. If you’re watching your weight, try to avoid these high- energy snacks as they could contribute to weight gain if you are not burning off all that extra energy through your daily activity. While loading up on snacks, which are high in saturated fat, sugar and kilojoules, may give you a short term burst of energy, they will usually do little to fill you up or for your long-term health.
The best snacks to choose are ones, which are going to help to fill us up and to provide us with some nutrition. This means choosing snacks, which contain carbohydrates, protein and vitamins and minerals, but are low in saturated fat and sugar.
Smart snack options include:
- Yoghurt and fresh fruit
- Dried fruit and nuts
- A bowl of fresh fruit salad
- Vegetable sticks and a low fat dip
- Milk-based drink
- Rice crackers with tuna or salmon
- Wholegrain toast with peanut butter or vegemite
- ruit or vegetable smoothie
- 1c plain popcorn
However, like with any food, it is important to watch the portions of the food you are eating.
A healthy portion size for a snack is:
- 1 pottle of yoghurt
- 1 small handful of nuts (approx 10 almonds or 3 brazil nuts)
- 1 piece of fruit (fits into the palm of your hand)
How to handle 3pm cravings
If you find that you reach 3pm and you are craving sugar or chocolate, try these useful tips:
- Ensure your lunch that contains some fibre and protein. This will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Listen to your body. Are you physically hungry or are you craving something sweet because you are stressed or in need of comfort? Look at other ways of fulfilling that need such as, taking some time out.
Try having a glass of water first. Sometimes we can confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger.
Don’t have foods around you that you find hard to resist.
Allow yourself a small bit first. There is no point telling yourself you’re not allowed chocolate as chances are you will end up snacking on something else before finally caving in and eating some chocolate as well.